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  1. Wrestling Observer Newsletter
  2.  
  3. PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 May 27, 2019
  4.  
  5.  
  6.  
  7. WWE MONEY IN THE BANK POLL RESULTS
  8.  
  9. Thumbs up 167 (58.8%)
  10.  
  11. Thumbs down 45 (15.8%)
  12.  
  13. In the middle 72 (25.4%)
  14.  
  15.  
  16.  
  17. BEST MATCH POLL
  18.  
  19. Seth Rollins vs. A.J. Styles 244
  20.  
  21. Men’s MITB match 25
  22.  
  23. Bayley vs. Charlotte 13
  24.  
  25.  
  26.  
  27. WORST MATCH POLL
  28.  
  29. Shane McMahon vs. The Miz 69
  30.  
  31. Roman Reigns vs. Elias 67
  32.  
  33. Becky Lynch vs. Lacey Evans 32
  34.  
  35. Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe 28
  36.  
  37. Tony Nese vs. Ariya Daivari 13
  38.  
  39. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte 9
  40.  
  41. Based on phone calls and e-mails to the Observer as of Tuesday, 5/21.
  42.  
  43.  
  44.  
  45. Ashley Massaro, the winner of the 2005 WWE Diva Search, passed away on 5/16
  46. after hanging herself.
  47.  
  48. Massaro, who had battled depression for years, was 39. In a 2017 affidavit when
  49. being party to a lawsuit against the company, she claimed she was raped and
  50. sodomized while doing a public relations tour of military bases while working
  51. for WWE in 2007, which she was told to keep quiet about, a charge WWE has denied
  52. in the past and did again this past week..
  53.  
  54. Depression is a much larger issue in society than most truly understand. For a
  55. number of reasons, it is very strong in pro wrestling, as well as other forms of
  56. entertainment, due to the extreme highs involved in performing and fleeting
  57. nature of fame and the pressure on performing. Concussions likely exacerbate
  58. such issues, but it is a major part of society and entertainment in places where
  59. head trauma doesn’t exist. Most don’t talk about it publicly, due to the stigma,
  60. but many, such as Mauro Ranallo and A.J. Mendez (A.J. Lee) have been very
  61. outspoken on the subject.
  62.  
  63. Massaro was ten days away from her 40th birthday. She was working as a DJ for
  64. WWSK 94.3 FM The Shark in Long Island, working as a disc jockey and on-air host.
  65. She had called in sick prior to her suicide. She was discovered unconscious in
  66. her home in Smithtown, NY, which led to a phone call to 911 at about 5 a.m. She
  67. died while being transported to the hospital while emergency crews attempted
  68. life-resuscitating measures on her.
  69.  
  70. Massaro was extremely well liked among those who knew her in pro wrestling. She
  71. was also known for appearing on “Survivor: China,” a gig she was approached for
  72. after appearing on the cover of the April 2007 issue of Playboy at a time WWE
  73. was heavily marketing her after her Diva Search win. She also at the time
  74. appeared on covers of Flex and Maxim.
  75.  
  76. She had worked as a Fitness Model prior to WWE. Most recently she had worked
  77. with Paul Heyman’s Heyman Hustle web site doing modeling and ad campaigns,
  78. including a campaign for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
  79.  
  80. “I have no words,” wrote Maria Kanellis Bennett. “Ashley was my tag partner at
  81. WrestleMania, my sometimes road wife. We did countless photo shoots and press
  82. days together. It seems like yesterday Ashley was a major part of my life and
  83. then our world’s changed and now she is gone. I’m heartbroken for her family.”
  84.  
  85. “I can’t even begin to explain how devastated I am to hear about Ashley Massaro,
  86. legit one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known,” wrote Torrie Wilson. “When we
  87. fall into a dark place, it can seem like it will never change, but if you are
  88. there please keep hope and reach out for help.”
  89.  
  90. “She lived in the same town as me,” wrote Mick Foley. “I loved seeing her
  91. around. She was always so nice...and now she’s gone.”
  92.  
  93. “No one, absolutely no one, should hurt so bad they want to take their own
  94. life,” said Joe “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, who was part of the lawsuit
  95. with Massaro against WWE. “Ashley Massaro was a sweet little girl, maybe 115
  96. pounds at the most, with a past history of concussions that were overlooked and
  97. ignored. Now her child is motherless. Well, it should not ever be overlooked
  98. again. Life is too precious. As a multi-HOF inductee that has CTE, I was let for
  99. felt pressured to perform night-after-night, like Ashley. Someone at WWE was
  100. turning a blind eye, well someone is responsible. Wrestlers are pressured to
  101. perform under duress. We need a union or governing body to protect the
  102. performers. Now. This needs to end.”
  103.  
  104. “We are part of the problem too,” said former WCW performer April Hunter. “You
  105. get the love you feel you deserve. We allow ourselves to be mistreated and taken
  106. advantage of. That’s our normal. We’re just `happy to be here.’ We need to
  107. stop–for the good of everyone. All of us, to keep ourselves and others alive. We
  108. aren’t a big part of the problem, but we’re a cog in that wheel. Can we at least
  109. start a support network (Private FB?) where we can talk with each other about
  110. anything, day or night? A no judgment/it goes no further than her place? Like a
  111. suicide hotline thing, but for workers? Something? Can we learn anything from
  112. Ashley and do something to make it better?”
  113.  
  114. A number of women who worked with her, including Lilian Garcia, Trish Stratus,
  115. Torrie Wilson, Christy Hemme, Lisa Marie Varon, Maria Kanellis Bennett, Katarina
  116. Waters, Mickie James-Aldis, Amy “Lita” Dumas, Gail Kim, Candice Michelle, Eve
  117. Marie Torres-Gracie, Taryn Terrell and others put together a Go Fund Me to raise
  118. money for Massaro’s daughter, Alexa, for a college fund, or to use for a
  119. technical or vocational school and future education. The fund had raised more
  120. than $19,000 in the first 16 hours. Kim also said she would auction off her ring
  121. gear for her last match with Tessa Blanchard and donate the money to the fund.
  122.  
  123. “Darling Ashley Massaro, my heart hurts so much with this news,” wrote Stratus.
  124. “I remember being off with an injury and watching this beautiful, charismatic,
  125. athletic girl crowned Diva Search winner. Once I got cleared, they ran the idea
  126. by me to come back and work with Ashley against Vince’s Devils, Torrie Wilson,
  127. Candice Michelle and Lisa Marie (Victoria). I didn’t know what to expect. What I
  128. met was a driven, hungry girl who was eager and all in. She was enthusiastic
  129. from the start, excited about the opportunity to prove she was more than just a
  130. model.
  131.  
  132. I was her first suplex. I stood alongside her as she took her first steps of her
  133. wrestling career. What a sport, a total pro and she loved every minute in the
  134. ring–and I loved living it with her, through her wide-eyes of the newness of it
  135. all.
  136.  
  137. When you work with someone in this business, there is a bond that is forever
  138. formed. Even if the work/partnership is for only a brief time of your life, it
  139. is still a piece of your life that makes up your being. I’m thankful we kept in
  140. touch every so often touching on those moments that we shared. I’m having a hard
  141. time processing this news of my friend, a fellow worker, a fellow mom. I’m both
  142. sad and mad.”
  143.  
  144. Massaro had won WWE’s second televised version of the Diva Search, which
  145. guaranteed her a $250,000 per year contract. Christy Hemme won the first
  146. televised version. Massaro was picked ahead of Leyla Milani, a model from the TV
  147. show “Deal or No Deal,” and Kristal Marshall, who later became a television
  148. performer for WWE and at one time was married to Bobby Lashley. Trenesha
  149. Biggers, a former college volleyball player and model who didn’t make the top
  150. ten that season, was signed by WWE, released and later signed by TNA, where she
  151. was featured as Rhaka Khan, and was linked for a time with Kurt Angle.
  152.  
  153. Massaro was recruited by WWE into the contest when someone casting for Diva
  154. Search saw her in a bikini contest. She already had an entertainment background,
  155. winning the Miss Hawaiian Tropic USA bikini contest in 2002 and Miss Hawaiian
  156. Tropic Canada contest in 2004, and had two Playboy photo spreads and had done
  157. some television before becoming something of a celebrity with WWE. She attended
  158. SUNY-Albany where she graduated with a degree in Communications.
  159.  
  160. Massaro worked for WWE from 2005 to 2008. She was heavily pushed coming off the
  161. contest winning and was a favorite early on of both Vince McMahon and Kevin
  162. Dunn. But she was injured several times, and the company seemed to lose interest
  163. in her when the feeling was she didn’t represent them well on Survivor. She also
  164. had a relationship at one point with Matt Hardy. At the 2007 WrestleMania, she
  165. faced Melina (Perez) for the WWE women’s championship in a Lumberjills match,
  166. where the other women on the main roster were around the ring.
  167.  
  168. In 2008 she was also linked to the Bella (no relation to Nikki and Brie) Models
  169. escort service in Los Angeles from an FBI investigation showing e-mails and
  170. travel arrangements between the service and Massaro that was the subject of a
  171. May 15, 2008, article on the escort service in Rolling Stone. There was a web
  172. page for her with the company that listed a $25,000 travel fee for her. Later
  173. she denied any involvement.
  174.  
  175. In July, she asked for her release from the company, citing that her daughter,
  176. Alexa, who was seven at the time, was ill.
  177.  
  178. She had recently been training been training at Mikey Whipwreck’s wrestling
  179. school on Long Island, looking for a comeback in wrestling. She also had been in
  180. contact with the Orlando-based Team Vision Dojo about a comeback. Whether this
  181. shows the intoxicating nature of the business, or simply the mentality that this
  182. was the best way for her to earn a living, when she vividly described all of her
  183. injuries from a relatively short career that left her in pain, with pain killer
  184. addictions and multiple surgeries, as well as the horrible description of her
  185. career in her affidavit, to an outsider it would be shocking that at her age,
  186. she was looking to get back in.
  187.  
  188. She was one of 60 wrestlers who sued WWE in 2016 regarding problems related to
  189. concussions. The suit was thrown out this past September, but attorney
  190. Konstantine Kyros claimed to have a 7/8 court date for an appeal.
  191.  
  192. The WWE contacted several media sources and claimed that a few weeks after the
  193. case was thrown out, in October, that she had apologized to the WWE in an e-mail
  194. for taking part in the lawsuit, claiming Kyros poached her and the situation got
  195. out-of-hand.
  196.  
  197. WWE claimed Massaro, in the e-mail, said, “I accept my part of the
  198. responsibility and just want to formally apologize and express my regret, You
  199. all changed my life and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
  200.  
  201. Kyros responded to the news of that e-mail saying he was unaware of it, and that
  202. he was still representing her in the appeal.
  203.  
  204. “She was being represented by me. She never withdrew from the case. She never
  205. stopped being my client, and her case is currently pending. It’s not a credible
  206. statement that she sent an e-mail refuting the case.”
  207.  
  208. “It was an apology she wrote at a point in time that came after the judge not
  209. only dismissed the cases but also ordered Kyros to send a copy of her (Judge
  210. Vanessa Bryant) opinion sanctioning him for his dishonest conduct (to all the
  211. client involved in the case) among other things,” said WWE attorney Jerry
  212. McDevitt. “So Ashley would have read that opinion castigating him before she
  213. reached out. I might add, she isn’t the only one who has done so.”
  214.  
  215. Kyros said that her family may provide her brain for a CTE examination and has
  216. pushed that case in the media, where it’s become a story that her brain will be
  217. examined. Massaro is believed to have done about 63 WWE matches over the four
  218. years she was with the company as well as some independent matches over the
  219. years, the most recent being in 2016. Of the wrestlers diagnosed with CTE, most
  220. did far more matches but they were also in every case, far more trained when
  221. starting out.
  222.  
  223. Kyros responded to the claim he poached her and roped her into the case,
  224. releasing what he claimed was the first correspondence between the two in an
  225. e-mail from her contacting him on August 23, 2016.
  226.  
  227. “I am a former WWE Diva/wrestler with multiple long term injuries. I was working
  228. for WWE from 2005-2008 and was on the road as a main event wrestler working TV’s
  229. AND house shows at least 4 days a week for my entire career.
  230.  
  231. I was thrown in the ring after winning the 2005 diva search with absolutely no
  232. training which ultimately caused many injuries. I’ve had multiple documented
  233. concussions during my career. I was treated by WWE doctors and after leaving the
  234. company I continued to see my own personal doctors for treatment. I found out
  235. about this lawsuit through others who are on it.
  236.  
  237. I believe I am exactly who you are looking to help. I more than fit the
  238. conditions listed on your website. I’ve been plagued by these injuries my entire
  239. life after leaving the company. I believe WWE has caused major problems, life
  240. altering problems and wish more than anything that I never worked for them.
  241.  
  242. Aside from the times I was knocked unconscious and out cold for 5 minutes, I
  243. also have a fractured spine, a 5 inch metal plate inserted in my ankle for a
  244. spiral fracture that happened at a match on PPV where on camera I was rushed out
  245. by EMTs to go to the hospital for treatment. I suffered debilitating back
  246. injuries while working for them overseas in the UK and have hospital records for
  247. that as well. Vince McMahon himself ordered a cast to be sawed off of my right
  248. hand/wrist moments before I was thrown back out into the ring to wrestle on tv
  249. even though my cast was not scheduled to come off for another 2 or 3 weeks.
  250.  
  251. I was beat down, broken, and being almost forced to perform. Since then I see
  252. pain management doctors on a monthly basis for 10 years because of the pain and
  253. problems that came from my time there. Please feel free to call me or if you get
  254. a moment to please google my name and you can at least see some of the injuries
  255. I sustained that WWE posted on their official website. I hope to hear back from
  256. you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration.”
  257.  
  258. McDevitt noted that in that correspondence there was so mention of any sexual
  259. assault.
  260.  
  261. Pushed as a hot tomboy type, she was wrestling with limited training, making her
  262. television debut on Raw just two weeks after winning the contest, losing to
  263. Victoria. She was quickly put into a tag team with Stratus and feuding with
  264. heels Wilson, Michelle and Victoria during the bra and panties match era. She
  265. was hardly a natural in the ring, which wasn’t helped by her inexperience. On
  266. February 20, 2006, she suffered a broken left leg while being eliminated from a
  267. Battle Royal. She underwent surgery two days later, needing a five-inch metal
  268. plate and eight screws put into her leg. While still in a cast, she did a
  269. storyline at ringside where Stratus fell on her accidentally which caused more
  270. damage to her leg.
  271.  
  272. The problems from these injuries led to another leg surgery after she left WWE
  273. in 2008, an ankle operation in 2010 and another ankle operation in 2016, which
  274. she had to rely on New York’s Medicaid to take care of.
  275.  
  276. She said that she had to see a pain management doctor monthly since leaving WWE
  277. due to pain from her various injuries. In September, 2010, she went through
  278. WWE-sponsored rehab, working with Ann Russo-Gordon and went through a 42 day
  279. rehab program.
  280.  
  281. In a 2017 affidavit, she said that she had needed knee surgery due to a torn
  282. meniscus for a year. She said she hadn’t gotten it because it would cause
  283. financial hardship and she was afraid to take pain medication after surgery
  284. because of her prior issues with pain pills.
  285.  
  286. She claimed that while wrestling, she took pain pills to perform while injured,
  287. which only led to worsening of the injuries.
  288.  
  289. “The quantity of pills we were given and the strengths of the dosages were so
  290. high that even after the injuries healed, our bodies were addicted to the
  291. medication itself and would be in pain without it.
  292.  
  293. She returned to television for angles in June but didn’t wrestle until July. Two
  294. weeks later she broke her hand and was made the manager of Paul London & Brian
  295. Kendrick. Her hand was put in a cast and she was told to keep the cast on four
  296. for weeks. She said that two weeks later, Vince McMahon wanted her back in the
  297. ring and ordered her cast sawed off so she could wrestle.
  298.  
  299. At the 2007 WrestleMania, she faced Melina (Perez) for the WWE women’s
  300. championship.
  301.  
  302. She suffered another left leg injury which loosened a screw from the surgery and
  303. was out for another two months. Then they shot an angle where Vince McMahon
  304. suspended her which was a storyline reason for her departing to do the
  305. “Survivor” season.
  306.  
  307. She actually only lasted six days on the show before she was voted off.
  308.  
  309. After her death, Kyros released a long affidavit she had given Judge Bryant
  310. regarding her time in WWE. She had given the affidavit in 2017 and a version of
  311. the story was reported at the time in the Boston Globe and denied by WWE.
  312.  
  313. The WWE was not aware of the affidavit and its contents until Kyros released it
  314. this past week.
  315.  
  316. She said that in 2007, she was one of four performers sent to visit troops in
  317. Afghanistan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia on a two-week tour with Maria Kanellis, Ron
  318. Simmons and Jimmy Hart.
  319.  
  320. She said that in Saudi Arabia, even though she was wearing a burqa, she was
  321. treated badly by men. She said that while in Kuwait, she suffered from menstrual
  322. cramps. She said U.S. Army soldiers said she was suffering from dehydration. It
  323. should be noted that it has been confirmed she was treated at the time for
  324. dehydration and she was taken to a military base in Kuwait and hooked up to an
  325. IV.
  326.  
  327. She claimed another man showed up in an orange T-shirt and cargo shorts and put
  328. an IV of another substance in her other arm. She said the man and another woman
  329. took her to another room that didn’t appear to be a treatment room, and placed
  330. her on a table. She said the woman guarded the door and the man injected her
  331. with a drug that left her unable to move, and claimed at that point she was
  332. raped and sodomized. She said the drug made her temporarily paralyzed and unable
  333. to defend herself, but she was completely conscious. She gave a harrowing
  334. description of this, and said that she told the story to Kanellis, and that
  335. Kanellis told the story to Jimmy Hart, Gary Hart (actually Gary Davis, the WWE
  336. agent who accompanied the wrestlers on the tour) and Simmons.
  337.  
  338. She said that later she told the four of them to not tell anyone what happened.
  339.  
  340. She said that Dr. Rios from WWE set up a meeting with her and asked her what
  341. happened. She said she didn’t know how he knew and she said she told him the
  342. story but told him not to tell it to anyone. She said Rios then told Vince
  343. McMahon, who told Dunn, Laurinaitis and other executives who were all at a
  344. meeting with her later. She said Vince asked her at the meeting with all the key
  345. people to recount what happened to her. She said Vince then told her it was not
  346. in the best interest of WWE for her to make the information public.
  347.  
  348. “I was completely traumatized at that point and I just agreed. It was clear that
  349. there had already been a conversation and that they had reached a decision on
  350. their own prior to consulting with me as this was not a debate but rather Vince
  351. instructing me to keep this confidential.”
  352.  
  353. She said Vince apologized to her, but stressed to her that if she told anyone,
  354. it would ruin the relationship between WWE and the U.S. military.
  355.  
  356. “He told me not to let one bad experience ruin the good work they were doing.
  357. His lack of sensitively in referring to my ordeal as `one bad experience’ left
  358. me speechless. Vince went on to say that I would not be required to travel to
  359. the Middle East ever again and that the WWE would institute a new policy where
  360. any time a female WWE performer went to the Middle East, she would have a female
  361. WWE escort with her 24/7 to ensure this did not happen again. This did not make
  362. me feel better about the situation. It had already happened to me and the damage
  363. was already done.”
  364.  
  365. She said she then asked Vince and the others in the room to keep the incident
  366. quiet because she was uncomfortable with the thought of all the other wrestlers
  367. finding out and they agreed.
  368.  
  369. She said she was never able to have a rape kit administered and wasn’t in the
  370. right mental state to determine how to report a crime that happened on a
  371. military base in Kuwait and was committed by someone who she didn’t know.
  372.  
  373. She said the incident haunted her to that day, and she can’t count the number of
  374. times she has relived the incident in her head. She said that obviously she
  375. should have received counseling or therapy but neither Rios nor Vince suggested
  376. it.
  377.  
  378. “WWE is saddened by the death of Ashley Massaro, and we reiterate our
  379. condolences to her family,” said WWE in a statement to the Observer. “However,
  380. we regret that her attorney, Konstantine Kyros, who filed multiple cases against
  381. WWE, lost all of them, and was sanctioned multiple times by the Court for
  382. repeated misconduct and false allegations, is using Ashley’s death to further
  383. his malicious campaign against WWE by releasing an affidavit that she submitted
  384. to the Court and later apologized to WWE for being involved with, so we wish to
  385. make certain things crystal clear.
  386.  
  387. 1) At no time was Vince McMahon or the management of WWE ever informed by Ashley
  388. Massaro or anybody else that she had been sexually assaulted, drugged, raped or
  389. sodomized by a military doctor with a nurse standing guard while on a goodwill
  390. tour in 2007 to U.S. military bases in Kuwait. In fact, if she ever articulated
  391. such a claim to WWE, we would have reported it immediately to the Base
  392. Commander.
  393.  
  394. 2) At no time was there ever a meeting with Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn, John
  395. Laurinaitis or other company executives in which she told them of such a claim
  396. and was instructed to keep it quiet.”
  397.  
  398. McDevitt said that nobody has been able to corroborate the story, and that the
  399. idea there was such a meeting that she described with McMahon, Dunn and
  400. Laurinaitis was complete bullshit. He said those named as knowing, Hart, Davis
  401. and Simmons who she said were told by Kanellis, have all denied knowing anything
  402. or being told anything. He said that when Kanellis was asked, she said she
  403. didn’t recall the story.
  404.  
  405. “If she was told something like that, there is no way she wouldn’t recall it,”
  406. he said. “If somebody told you that, you would remember it for the rest of your
  407. life.”
  408.  
  409. The only thing confirmed is that the part of the story that she was treated for
  410. dehydration on that tour is accurate.
  411.  
  412. John Pollock unearthed the diary of Davis on-line and there was a passage that
  413. referenced her being hospitalized.
  414.  
  415. “We are all starting to feel the effects of the heat, in order to deal with the
  416. hot climate, we are told to keep drinking water constantly. Even then, sometimes
  417. the heat can overcome you. At the next autograph session, Ashley begins to
  418. swoon. Our base escorts demand she be taken to the Medical Center, despite her
  419. protests to the contrary. While doctors checked her out, we proceeded to our
  420. next destination, Camp LSA Mess Hall where we meed the base commander,
  421. Lieutenant Colonel Tim Eichorn, for lunch.”
  422.  
  423. Massaro said that when she had been injured, Rios administered cortisone shots
  424. or prescribed pain medication and muscle relaxers, but said those would allow
  425. her to perform over the short-term. She said Rios told her at one point she
  426. needed a break given all her injuries in such a short period of time, but that
  427. his advice was ignored by WWE.
  428.  
  429. She claimed that when she entered the Divas Search, she was under the impression
  430. that the winning prize was a $250,000 one-year contract to work for WWE as a
  431. promotional spokesmodel rather than as a wrestler.
  432.  
  433. She then claimed Vince McMahon insisted on her being represented by someone
  434. named Rich from Marina del Rey, who tried to force her to pay him $50,000 as her
  435. agent. She refused to pay it, because she had already earned the contract and
  436. claimed he never represented her, and that she almost lost her contract over it.
  437.  
  438. “This was my introduction to the coercive and unscrupulous tactics employed by
  439. the WWE to take advantage of its performers.”
  440.  
  441. She said that while she was told that she wasn’t going to be a wrestler if she
  442. won, she was immediately thrown into pro wrestling matches with zero training.
  443.  
  444. “I did not know how to safely execute any moves or be on the receiving end of
  445. any moves.”
  446.  
  447. She said that started a cycle of constant injuries. She said that she was given
  448. a backbreaker, but her opponent not only neglected to show her how to take the
  449. move, and she suffered a severe back injury.
  450.  
  451. She said that after her second week, she asked Stephanie McMahon if she could
  452. get proper wrestling training. She said that Stephanie told her no because going
  453. to OVW (WWE’s developmental system at the time) would mean she would be off the
  454. main roster and Stephanie said she would then lose her fan base, her spot, and
  455. WWE wouldn’t give her back the level of spot that she had later.
  456.  
  457. She noted she was able to walk into WWE with a strong fan base due to her
  458. popularity in winning the Diva Search, but that was a double-edged sword.
  459.  
  460. She said during her period with WWE she sustained multiple concussions and
  461. didn’t receive appropriate treatment, or in many cases any treatment. It should
  462. be noted that prior to a period many months after Chris Benoit murdered his
  463. wife, son and killed himself, that concussions in pro wrestling were almost
  464. considered a rite of passage and most of the time not taken all that seriously.
  465. Bret Hart, in particular, whose career ended because of a series of concussions
  466. during a short period of time because he came back very quickly after a major
  467. concussion, was criticized for not returning to the ring even though his doctors
  468. told him he shouldn’t be wrestling.
  469.  
  470. She said on September 5, 2005, in a match with Wilson, during a rehearsal of the
  471. match, Wilson gave her a neckbreaker, a move she didn’t know how to take, and
  472. was knocked unconscious for five minutes. She said she received no treatment for
  473. the concussion. She said that nobody even said anything to her about it besides
  474. Stratus, who advised her to shake it off. She said Stratus said that because she
  475. knew from experience she would get in trouble if she complained about it. She
  476. did her match later that day but asked that Wilson not do a neckbreaker on her,
  477. and said that request wasn’t well received, but was granted.
  478.  
  479. After this match, she again came to Stephanie, this time with a suggestion,
  480. asking if she could take wrestling classes at a school in Deer Park, NY, on her
  481. days off. She said that Stephanie turned that down as well.
  482.  
  483. She said that she was afraid she would keep getting injured, so she started
  484. taking wrestling classes on her days off, Stephanie found out, and told her to
  485. stop. She said WWE didn’t know anything about the gym she was training at and it
  486. could become a corporate liability if she was hurt while training and not able
  487. to perform.
  488.  
  489. She also claimed to have suffered a hairline fracture of her spine, several back
  490. injuries and had a herniated disc in her cervical vertebrae.
  491.  
  492. In 2015, she was trolled by someone on Twitter pretending to be Stephanie
  493. McMahon inviting her to Raw and she responded very excited about the prospects.
  494.  
  495. In 2017, she said she was taking medication for depression, suffered migraine
  496. headaches and severe short-term memory loss. .
  497.  
  498. In her affidavit, she also complained about being labeled an independent
  499. contractor.
  500.  
  501. “It is also unfathomable that John Laurinaitis would be able to just negotiate a
  502. deal for me to appear on the cover of Playboy if I was truly an independent
  503. contractor. To this day, I don’t even know whether I received full compensation
  504. for the cover because everything was handled by the WWE and its lawyers. If the
  505. WWE could tell me I had to pose nude for a magazine and handle all aspects of
  506. the transaction, this suggests it exerted some level of control over me that is
  507. more akin to an employee.”
  508.  
  509. She claimed to have spent $55,000 per year on travel expenses while working for
  510. WWE, between rental cars and hotels.
  511.  
  512.  
  513. All Elite Wrestling presents the biggest first show for any pro wrestling
  514. promotion dating back at least 57 years, “Double or Nothing” on 5/25 at the MGM
  515. Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
  516.  
  517. The only show comparable, in a very different time, was the debut of Roy Shire’s
  518. Big Time Wrestling promotion on March 4, 1961, at the Cow Palace in San
  519. Francisco. After getting television for six weeks on KTVU, Ch. 2, Shire promoted
  520. a card with a triple main event, Bill Melby vs. Mitsu Arakawa, Don Leo Jonathan
  521. vs. Argentina Rocca and Ray Stevens vs. Cowboy Bob Ellis, with Verne Gagne and
  522. Bruno Sammartino working underneath, drew a turnaway crowd of 16,553 fans, which
  523. included 1,500 standing room tickets..
  524.  
  525. Double or Nothing had no television. But it had the power of the Internet, with
  526. former WWE star Chris Jericho as the key draws along with the country’s biggest
  527. independent draw, Kenny Omega, coming off three years as the top foreign star of
  528. New Japan Pro Wrestling, and the self-made stars of The Young Bucks and Cody.
  529. The Cow Palace sold most of its tickets that night. Double or Nothing sold all
  530. of its tickets in about 30 minutes, months ahead, after a rally where fans could
  531. apply for a code to where they could purchase tickets a few days later.
  532.  
  533. More than 22,000 codes were asked for. When tickets were put on sale, the 12,000
  534. seats put on went to the first 4,100 people who signed in. At the time the
  535. ticket sales were closed, there were another 11,000 people waiting to order. Had
  536. the building been big enough, they would have been able to sell 43,500 ticket
  537. that day.
  538.  
  539. Still, it was a one-day frenzy. Most of the sales came from outside Las Vegas,
  540. which is actually a relatively small metropolitan area and a city that is known
  541. for supporting boxing and MMA, but has never been a big pro wrestling market.
  542. WrestleMania in 1993 couldn’t sell out at Caesar’s Palace. WCW couldn’t sell out
  543. with frequent major PPV shows in the market.
  544.  
  545. Because it was about people flying in, and making arrangements early, the
  546. secondary market wasn’t strong. As compared with All In, its spiritual
  547. predecessor, which also sold out instantly but, being in a huge wrestling
  548. market, Chicago, also did big on the secondary market, this didn’t. At press
  549. time, the price for the lowest ticket was $28.42. Talks of closed circuit
  550. showings for the overflow weren’t necessary because the people who couldn’t get
  551. tickets for the most part didn’t come to Las Vegas, and it wasn’t a big local
  552. show.
  553.  
  554. Also, in truth, All In was the stronger card, with people like Kazuchika Okada,
  555. Kota Ibushi and Rey Mysterio. And Double or Nothing as a lineup was seemingly
  556. hurt by the loss of the Hangman Page vs. Pac match, generally considered the No.
  557. 3 or No. 4 bout on the show.
  558.  
  559. Still, to categorize a show without television selling out a building that size
  560. that quickly, with only a few tickets held back for a public on sale that went
  561. instantly, as anything but a gigantic success would be a disingenuous stretch.
  562.  
  563. This show is important in the sense that AEW has changed the scene. Some people
  564. hate change. There is a generation of fans who have grown up with WWE as the
  565. only serious game in town, and while this group can’t beat WWE, they’ve already
  566. disrupted the status quo. Some are mad about changes. Some are threatened. Some
  567. welcome it. But whether this show is great, good, or even average, the most
  568. important show will really be in October, when the television on TNT, and like
  569. ITV and a possible Canadian outlet start. A weekly two-hour television show
  570. going from market-to-market and needing to draw a few thousand fans to look good
  571. is a very different animal to a huge first show.
  572.  
  573. The fact AEW looks to be very different from any other U.S. promotion in history
  574. was exemplified this past week when the Page vs. Pac match fell through.
  575.  
  576. Essentially, AEW is built on winning and losing meaning something. They want to
  577. do win/loss records and stats. Many are skeptical that this can work in pro
  578. wrestling, since win/loss records have rarely been done and analytics on
  579. matches, like what is sometimes done with boxing and MMA, has never been done.
  580.  
  581. Pac (Benjamin Slattery, 32), was scheduled to face Page since a confrontation in
  582. February right before tickets were put on sale. Slattery signed a per-date deal
  583. rather than a full-time deal, to allow him to continue to work for Dragon Gate,
  584. where he held the Open the Dream Gate championship, that company’s top belt. He
  585. even brought the belt to the rally in Jacksonville and the title was talked
  586. about.
  587.  
  588. Pac was scheduled to beat Page, which with the win, was to lead to bigger
  589. matches. His next big match was to be on the Fyter Fest show on 6/27 in Daytona
  590. Beach, in the main event, where he would team with Pentagon Jr. & Fenix against
  591. The Young Bucks & Omega. It appeared this would eventually lead to Omega vs. Pac
  592. on a major show later this year.
  593.  
  594. The plan for that was for Omega to win. But with Pac holding the Open the Dream
  595. Gate title, he made it known that as long as he had the title, to respect that
  596. title, he couldn’t lose. While nobody outright said this to me, it seemed like
  597. AEW figured the match was months away, and that nobody in Dragon Gate would fret
  598. much over their champion losing to Omega, the biggest foreign star in Japan of
  599. the last decade, if Pac was even champion by the time that match was to come
  600. around. That wasn’t the case. Ultimately, they found out in the last week or so
  601. that Dragon Gate had no plans to take the title off Pac, and Pac wouldn’t lose
  602. until he was no longer champion.
  603.  
  604. They still could have done the match. Every other promotion in history would
  605. have, because the mentality of wins and losses would be different. The feeling
  606. here is that beating Page had to be a big deal and lead to a major main event,
  607. because they are positioning Page as a big star. If it’s not to set up a match
  608. with Omega, Jericho or Cody, nobody should be beating Page.
  609.  
  610. You could do a DQ, and many would, or a draw. They made the decision that they
  611. wanted winners and losers when you pay for a PPV. To not adhere to that concept
  612. on the first show basically ruins the concept they are pushing right out of the
  613. gate. They were not going to sacrifice the entire concept of what they were
  614. building to get out of a match.
  615.  
  616. As far as the draw idea goes, that had problems as well. They could have done
  617. it, but there were a number of reasons why they didn’t. First, Tony Khan was at
  618. the Revolution Pro show where Pac and Will Ospreay did a 30:00 draw in what was
  619. an easy ****3/4 match. But as great as the match was, the fans booed the draw.
  620. Khan didn’t want that reaction on his show, and also noted it wasn’t just that
  621. match, but other Pac draws in the U.K. had gotten similar reactions, noting
  622. another great match with Zack Sabre Jr. The fact that in the 70s, or in New
  623. Japan, a long classic match ending in a draw would be viewed one way didn’t
  624. matter, because it’s neither the 70s nor Japan. He didn’t want a negative
  625. reaction like that on the debut show.
  626.  
  627. Second, it didn’t work out. If they did a 20:00 draw, they’d have to cut time
  628. from other matches to make it work. Plus, if in the future, they wanted a
  629. non-main event to go more than 20:00, the precedent would be set that a third
  630. from the top match has that time limit. If they went 30:00, they’d have to cut
  631. more time out of perhaps multiple matches. It was noted that with the show they
  632. have laid out, even with a very long five-hour window, that they simply didn’t
  633. have the time to sacrifice on this show by taking away from other matches to fit
  634. that when you had a hard midnight Eastern ending because the event is on a
  635. television PPV show.
  636.  
  637. Even if that wasn’t the case, as noted, they didn’t want a draw.
  638.  
  639. The word is that with surprises and changes made, that the new scenario is
  640. better. That’s a tall order to fill, because Page vs. Pac figured to be a great
  641. match.
  642.  
  643. As far as Pac goes, for right now he will not be working for the promotion. He
  644. won’t be at Fyter Fest, and likely angles or match announcements will be made
  645. coming off the show to make sense for however that main event is to be changed.
  646. He is not expected to be back until he loses the Dream Gate belt, because with
  647. the style of booking they are doing, they can’t do business with somebody who
  648. can’t ever lose. If they want to book someone to a long winning streak, they
  649. may, but he wasn’t the guy at this time. It is not a lock he’ll be back after he
  650. loses the title, but we’re told that everyone likes him personally and they
  651. don’t consider him unprofessional or any of the negative terms he’s gotten from
  652. this ordeal, but his situation doesn’t allow them to use him right now.
  653.  
  654. As an attempt at a make-good of sorts, they made arraignments to deliver the
  655. advertised match and shoot a storyline angle to explain everything.
  656.  
  657. Pac was scheduled for a three-way on 5/18 for the WrestleGate promotion in
  658. Nottingham, England, against Robbie X and Jody Fleisch. At the show, they
  659. announced that X was injured and Fleisch had transportation problems.
  660.  
  661. Pac cut a promo basically making an open challenge. Page showed up, looking
  662. noticeably bigger than ever after a storyline that had been doing on for months
  663. on BTE with the idea that he would both gain muscle and lose fat at the same
  664. time, because management didn’t like his physique, which even included a secret
  665. formula placebo angle out of the 1996 basketball movie Space Jam with Michael
  666. Jordan and Bugs Bunny. Later, Cody revealed of course that it was just a way to
  667. motivate him to train harder.
  668.  
  669. The two did 13-and-a-half minute match in a small ring, doing all of their
  670. signature spots. That match would have torn the house down, and the DQ finish
  671. that they did do, would have been received terribly, as Pac gave the referee a
  672. low blow to end it.
  673.  
  674. They let Pac get heat, doing an angle where he attacked Page after the match
  675. with a chair, put his leg in the chair and Pillmanized the leg. The idea is Page
  676. is injured. Pac then did an interview saying that his goal was to hurt Page, and
  677. he had accomplished it, so there was no need to go to Las Vegas. He said that he
  678. wasn’t going to be in Double or Nothing and wasn’t going to work for AEW. The
  679. idea is that if and when he does come to AEW, he has a ready-made program with
  680. Page.
  681.  
  682. I’d give the match ***3/4, and it would have been probably ½* higher if it had
  683. built to a better finish. AEW released the match on 5/21 for free on YouTube and
  684. financed the match, paying both wrestlers. In their mind, they did pay off the
  685. hyping by giving the match, but not hurting the concept of what they want their
  686. PPVs to be, all clean finishes, opening up a new angle and direction for the PPV
  687. and still being able to bring back Pac vs. Page on a PPV at a time when they can
  688. book Pac within their parameters.
  689.  
  690. I believe the storyline will be that Page is hurt, but obviously Page will be on
  691. the show. Whether he does a match with a mystery opponent or an angle remains to
  692. be seen.
  693.  
  694. On 5/22, AEW announced that its world championship will be determined in a
  695. singles match, likely happening on the 8/31 show at the Sears Center in Chicago,
  696. where the winner of Jericho vs. Omega on 5/25 faces the winner of the Casino
  697. Battle Royale match on the pre-show. The exact date of the match is expected to
  698. be announced after the completion of the Jericho vs. Omega match.
  699.  
  700. The Casino Battle Royal has five guys entering based on a card draw, every three
  701. minutes. After nine minutes, 20 men will be in. The wild card holder enters 12
  702. minutes in and is the 21st and final entrant. They’ve announced 17 names, Sonny
  703. Kiss, Brandon Cutler, Ace Romero, Glacier (from 90s WCW), Brian Pillman Jr.,
  704. Sunny Daze, MJF, Joey Janela, Dustin Thomas (who was born with no legs), Billy
  705. Gunn, Jimmy Havoc, Michael Nakazawa, Jungle Boy, Isiah Kassidy, Marq Quen (the
  706. latter two are the very green but super athletic Private Party tag team),
  707. Luchasaurus and Shawn Spears (who was Tye Dillinger in WWE). Looking at that
  708. list, not one name stands out to where you would have him main event your next
  709. PPV against ether Omega or Jericho, so one would think the winner would be one
  710. of the four mystery guys.
  711.  
  712. Regarding the most talked about mystery guys, Joey Ryan is booked on that night
  713. for AIW in Cleveland. C.M. Punk is doing play-by-play of an MMA show in Southern
  714. California. Jon Moxley (Dean Ambrose) is doing an MMA movie, although it is
  715. possible he could get a day off.
  716.  
  717. What is notable is that Cody outright said that the demographic they are looking
  718. at is the lapsed wrestling fan. There were probably nine million fans in the
  719. U.S. who consistently were watching wrestling on Monday nights 20 years ago, and
  720. now that number is around 2.5 million. But the question is if those millions
  721. have grown up and are willing to come back, or even if they would accept younger
  722. and newer stars, regardless of their ability to deliver in the ring.
  723.  
  724. My belief is that the success or failure of AEW revolves around whether or not a
  725. weekly time slot on TNT, which is a great platform, will lead to fans finding
  726. the show, and then accepting the idea that the product is a major league group
  727. and the stars are equal to, or really, are better than, the WWE. It’s a tall
  728. order. Even if WWE has turned off millions of fans in recent years, and they
  729. have, that doesn’t mean those people who have lived for decades with WWE as the
  730. only main brand in wrestling, are willing to accept something else. In the late
  731. 80s, WCW clearly outworked WWF in the ring, and with the exception of a very
  732. small percentage of the audience, it didn’t matter. And JCP in the 80s drew
  733. sometimes just as good, and at times better ratings. But in the majority of the
  734. markets, WWF was No. 1. The other guys could come in, draw a big house the first
  735. time, have their wrestlers tear down the house, and the crowds would still fade
  736. because the public did not see them as the major leagues.
  737.  
  738. In markets JCP won, with some exceptions like Baltimore, it’s because they were
  739. established first and Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes were the established local
  740. legends, and thus, being with them allowed the Road Warriors and Midnight
  741. Express and Rock & Roll Express to be viewed as major league legends. But in New
  742. York, didn’t matter what they did or how good they were, they could get one huge
  743. crowd every now and then, but could never sustain.
  744.  
  745. History is something to learn from. But times also change. Match quality does
  746. mean far more than it ever has historically. There is more interest and access
  747. to the non-major league group than ever before. There could never be an All In
  748. or Double or Nothing type of event five years ago, let alone before that,
  749. without television backing. There could never be an NXT drawing like it does for
  750. big shows either.
  751.  
  752. When WCW briefly surpassed WWF, it was through usage of stars from the prior
  753. generation and a few newly made stars. That luxury isn’t here now. One Chris
  754. Jericho doesn’t equal Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Sting, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall,
  755. Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart and so many others all on the same roster.
  756. But that concept had a few big years and collapsed from a lot of reasons,
  757. basically not being in touch with the viewers.
  758.  
  759. This group skews much younger, is far more open minded, but they are also a
  760. group of a dozen battling an army of hundreds when it comes to working and how
  761. much work can be done. Of course, they also don’t have to beat WWE to be a
  762. success. They just need to be able to tap into television money to go with the
  763. exposure. But if being on TNT can’t make new stars, and if the public sees them
  764. as a secondary group, like the XFL of wrestling, it’s not going to work. They
  765. have to be elevated to where the public sees them as a separate but equal, and
  766. really they have to have a niche and be superior in that niche, and have enough
  767. people realizing that, or they won’t be appointment viewing.
  768.  
  769.  
  770. The 30-year relationship between WWE and Sky Sports in the U.K. appears to be
  771. finished as it is expected the company will announce shortly that it is moving
  772. to BT Sports in January.
  773.  
  774. The move will come three months after what is expected to be AEW’s debut on ITV
  775. 4 in October with a regular live television show. The AEW deal is not official,
  776. but Cody strongly hinted at it on Being the Elite and Chris Jericho has talked
  777. about it on his podcast. ITV 4 will be airing both a Countdown like show for
  778. Double or Nothing on 5/24 and the one-hour Buy In show, as well as handle the
  779. PPV show in the U.K. market on ITV Box Office. The final deal is said to be not
  780. official until TNA decides whether to run the weekly two-hour live show on
  781. Tuesday or Wednesday nights. The hope is for ITV 4 to run the show live.
  782.  
  783. The two moves have major repercussions because AEW would have a far superior
  784. television outlet as far as reach goes in what has been the second biggest
  785. revenue producing country for WWE behind the U.S. There is talk that WWE will be
  786. getting a huge rights fee increase from India, and if so, even with very little
  787. live event, network or merchandise revenue in India, the television revenue
  788. alone is expected to make India the No. 2 market starting in 2020.
  789.  
  790. Still, for actually running live events and selling merchandise, the U.K. has
  791. been the No. 2 overseas market for many years.
  792.  
  793. It should also be noted that just because, if the deal happens, that AEW would
  794. have more television viewers, that doesn’t mean they will replace WWE as the No.
  795. 1 promotion in the country as there is more to that than TV viewers. TNA,
  796. because of greater clearance, often had more viewers than either Raw or
  797. Smackdown in the U.K., but WWE greatly outperformed them in every other
  798. category. WWE still has the largest company, a larger number of U.K. stars,
  799. decades of history and has been so established for so long as the major league
  800. brand that another company getting more viewers is not going to change the
  801. balance of power.
  802.  
  803. The Telegraph in the U.K. was the first to report the story on 5/16. But this
  804. does weaken the WWE’s television situation, since Sky is currently in 8.56
  805. million homes and BT is in 2.19 million homes. ITV 4 would be available in
  806. nearly 27 million homes.
  807.  
  808. Between first-run shows and replays, Sky was airing about 60 hours per week of
  809. WWE content. Sky and WWE parting ways was not unexpected ever since WWE started
  810. the WWE Network without informing Sky ahead of time, right after cutting a deal
  811. where Sky Box Office would market all WWE PPV shows.
  812.  
  813. The key items were that ratings for all WWE programming had dropped greatly in
  814. recent years, with declines far more severe than in the U.S. and Canada; the WWE
  815. starting the WWE Network without informing Sky, and then leading to a delay in
  816. launching the network in the U.K., and an issue where Sky objected to WWE airing
  817. WWE Main Event live on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. Eastern on the WWE Network,
  818. which meant it aired on the network before it aired on Sky, thus undercutting
  819. Sky’s television deal. This story ended with WWE not airing Main Event live.
  820.  
  821. BT had just lost key FA Cup soccer rights to ITV starting in 2021. They also
  822. aired 42 Premier League games per season, but starting in August, they only
  823. secured the rights to 32 games based on a new contract signed in February.
  824.  
  825. While BT is a step down from Sky in terms of visibility, if WWE becomes the
  826. flagship programming on BT, which it wasn’t on Sky, it could work out in their
  827. favor. But BT, which also owns the rights to UFC, has traditionally never pushed
  828. anything but soccer, even when they had rights to Conor McGregor fights. BT does
  829. have exclusive rights to the Champions League and Europa League, and with the
  830. success of British teams of late, it’s probably as good a time as any to make
  831. the move.
  832.  
  833. ITV 4, while available in nearly every British home free-to-air, is not nearly
  834. as big a deal as ITV, which aired World of Sport to diminishing returns over a
  835. ten-week cycle last year. One person in the U.K. wrestling business said the
  836. positive of such a deal is that every AEW fan will have easy access to the show.
  837. But ITV 4 isn’t a channel that will grab channel surfers in great numbers that
  838. aren’t already interested in the product.
  839.  
  840. It was noted that if AEW does catch on, due to accessibility, it does have the
  841. potential to be a far bigger deal on television than WWE. Another key aspect to
  842. the deal is that with ITV likely partnering with AEW on PPV shows, including
  843. AEW’s plan for doing live PPVs in the U.K. in local prime time, that other
  844. events ITV puts on PPV are given coverage and advertising on the main ITV
  845. channel. The main ITV channel is the No. 2 channel in the country, behind the
  846. BBC. If ITV does similar promotion for AEW’s major shows as it has for other
  847. events it puts on ITV Box Office, then from a publicity standpoint, they will be
  848. more visible in the U.K. market than WWE has been mainstream in many years.
  849.  
  850. Still, even with WWE’s live attendance being down in most of the larger arenas
  851. on the last two tours, just the value of the name, the history, and perceived
  852. star power and depth of the roster still will keep it viewed as the major league
  853. brand, even if less visible. For a similar situation, Bellator has had some of
  854. its bigger shows and U.K. shows on far wider-reaching platforms than BT Sports,
  855. and even runs far more often in the U.K. But UFC events at the O2 Arena in
  856. London and other venues are usually instant sellouts, and Bellator events are
  857. not. UFC is still considered by MMA fans as the major league group, even if, due
  858. to time slots and channel penetration, more television viewers watch Bellator.
  859.  
  860.  
  861. Ric Flair, 70, underwent heart surgery on 5/20, which was deemed a success after
  862. significant health issues led to him being rushed to the hospital for days
  863. earlier.
  864.  
  865. Flair was first diagnosed with heart issues in 2002, at the age of 53, which at
  866. the time his doctor attributed to his drinking and steroid use. He himself has
  867. publicly attributed it to the drinking but said it was not due to steroids,
  868. which while he admitted usage of, said he was never a heavy user. After several
  869. months off, he was cleared and returned to in-ring action and continued to
  870. wrestle regularly for years.
  871.  
  872. Flair had a major health scare in August 2017, when he was placed in an
  873. medically induced coma for 11 days after rupturing his intestine. He underwent
  874. emergency surgery and was given a 20 percent chance of surviving the surgery,
  875. because of the complications he had that included his kidneys shutting down,
  876. heart issues and pneumonia. He needed dialysis for a period of time after
  877. surgery and has had multiple surgeries related to issues from that time period.
  878.  
  879. Flair was scheduled to undergo heart surgery last week, with the idea he would
  880. recover in time to appear at Starrcast this coming weekend in Las Vegas. But he
  881. ended up with a health scare that rushed him to the Gwinnett Medical Center in
  882. Duluth, GA, just outside of Atlanta, where he lives. Complications delayed his
  883. surgery until 5/20.
  884.  
  885. The family reported that the surgery went well. However, due to the timing, he
  886. was unable to go to Las Vegas this weekend. Son-in-law Conrad Thompson had
  887. promoted Flair as probably the biggest name for Starrcast, held in conjunction
  888. with AEW’s debut show, once WWE pulled Undertaker off the event.
  889.  
  890. Flair was back home on 5/22.
  891.  
  892. Her was scheduled for a panel discussion with Ricky Steamboat covering their
  893. feud, and in particular the 30th anniversary of a series of four different
  894. five-star matches the two had in a program over the NWA world heavyweight
  895. championship in 1989. The two, who wrestled regularly starting in the late 70s,
  896. had what is generally considered the greatest in-ring rivalry of that era.
  897.  
  898. He was also scheduled for a celebrity roast, which was going to appear as a
  899. television pay-per-view event as well as was the key event as part of the
  900. Starrcast iPPV package on Fite TV.
  901.  
  902. It was announced that the roast was being postponed and would take place at a
  903. later date.
  904.  
  905. Flair has said he hopes to be back on the road doing appearances in ten to 14
  906. days.
  907.  
  908.  
  909. Brock Lesnar and Bayley were the winners of the Money in the Bank matches on a
  910. generally well regarded WWE PPV show on 5/19.
  911.  
  912. The show featured a Seth Rollins Universal title defense over A.J. Styles that
  913. may have been WWE’s best main roster match so far this year. The show featured a
  914. lot of short matches, most by design, one not by design, and a show-long angle
  915. culminating with the Lesnar win.
  916.  
  917. Lesnar, who was not advertised for the show, was kept away from everyone. There
  918. were people in the company aware Lesnar was there and would be part of the show,
  919. but most were not. Backstage, those who needed to know, were told that Ali was
  920. winning the Money in the Bank match, a change from Drew McIntyre, who had been
  921. said was the planned winner earlier in the week.
  922.  
  923. As noted last week, the angle where Sami Zayn defeated Braun Strowman to take
  924. his spot in the match was part of the storyline that paid off during the show.
  925. Zayn appeared early, going to HHH and fearing an attack by Strowman that night.
  926. HHH said that Strowman would be banned from the building. Later, Strowman was
  927. shown throwing things around backstage and looking for Zayn. After that, Zayn
  928. was found attacked, injured, and hung upside down. After the next match, HHH
  929. confronted Strowman, who denied doing it. HHH said that he wouldn’t allow
  930. Strowman in the match for taking out Zayn and told him to leave the building.
  931. HHH said he wasn’t going to call the police and just asked him to leave. He then
  932. said he was leaving. They said Zayn was injured and taken to a local medical
  933. facility.
  934.  
  935. The wrestlers in the match were all told that Ali was not winning, but that Ali
  936. would be on top when an eighth wrestler would arrive and he’d knock Ali off and
  937. be the winner. They were not told who the wrestler would be, but the idea was
  938. that they would believe it to be Strowman.
  939.  
  940. Right before the match started, Ali was told it was Lesnar, but told to keep it
  941. quiet.
  942.  
  943. The timing was silly, but it kind of had to be. Ali was at the top of the
  944. ladder. Everyone else was taken out. He was about to take down the briefcase
  945. when Lesnar’s music played. Ali had plenty of time at this point to unhook the
  946. briefcase and win. Instead, he just froze. Lesnar came down fast, with no care
  947. about human life, taking two cameramen out in the process. He then got in the
  948. ring, climbed the ladder, destroyed Ali and pulled the briefcase down to win.
  949. Ali was bleeding badly although the cameras were instructed not to shoot him.
  950.  
  951. The heat was that seven guys destroyed their bodies in a long match and then
  952. Lesnar just walked in and won. The entire scripting of that was designed to get
  953. the reaction that Lesnar was handed another thing again without working for it
  954. while the rest of the roster is out there killing themselves.
  955.  
  956. The finish was a great surprise pop, and the crowd went crazy for it, even with
  957. Lesnar as a heel, because they want surprises and happenings.
  958.  
  959. On the flip side, it was all about a momentary pop and surprise, as well as two
  960. weeks of television ratings. The feeling was that the Lesnar surprise would help
  961. ratings based on curiosity the next night, which it did. It was also used in an
  962. attempt to keep the audience into the third hour, by teasing Lesnar would cash
  963. in against either Rollins or Kofi Kingston. Lesnar came out, teased cashing in,
  964. backed out, but Paul Heyman said that next week on Raw, from Kansas City (what a
  965. weird coincidence that the Raw 20 years to the week of Owen Hart’s death in
  966. Kemper Arena would be booked for Kansas City, which is probably something that
  967. won’t be addressed on the show), Lesnar would say who he is cashing it in
  968. against.
  969.  
  970. At first, I thought the surprise of Lesnar winning made for a cool moment and it
  971. did get a huge reaction and helped the TV ratings. One could argue that it could
  972. have been used for a longer cash-in story given Rollins vs. Lesnar, if that’s
  973. the direction, was logically going to happen in Saudi Arabia anyway and didn’t
  974. need the briefcase to take place. The idea is it could have been used to help
  975. someone get over. However, with the nature of Vince McMahon’s booking, it was
  976. noted that if someone like Andrade or Ricochet or Ali would have won, Vince
  977. McMahon would see it as having done something for them and then would have
  978. beaten them regularly on television, thinking he could at that point having
  979. given them that big win, and it would within weeks negate the win and perhaps
  980. end up hurting them more than helping, particularly if McMahon decided against
  981. them winning the title.
  982.  
  983. It had been the plan since before WrestleMania for Lesnar to get his rematch
  984. with Rollins at the May Saudi Arabia show, which, of course, was then moved to
  985. 6/7. But on 5/21, they shot an angle to set up Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler on
  986. that show, so in theory that would mean Lesnar’s decision almost has to be
  987. Rollins. There’s always the possibility of a swerve.
  988.  
  989. Ziggler was a late change from Kevin Owens, who refused to go to Saudi Arabia.
  990. The feeling is that they had nobody ready, since they didn’t want a Raw wrestler
  991. in the spot and since HHH vs. Randy Orton was already booked on the show, as was
  992. Finn Balor vs. Andrade, the only names were Owens, Elias, or Daniel Bryan (who
  993. has been moved into a tag team program and also isn’t going to Saudi Arabia).
  994. The decision was just made, since Ziggler was booked by WWE to be in Australia
  995. that weekend. WWE just pulled him from that appearance and is sending Carmella
  996. to Australia in his place.
  997.  
  998. Bayley cashed in her briefcase immediately and ended up as Smackdown champion.
  999. It was a scenario that started when Becky Lynch retained her Raw women’s title
  1000. over Lacey Evans. Evans then punched Ly ch to set up Charlotte Flair winning the
  1001. Smackdown over Lynch. Flair and Evans were beating down Lynch when Bayley made
  1002. the save. In the brawl, Bayley threw Flair into the turnbuckles which stunned
  1003. her. Bayley cashed it in and used an elbow drop off the top rope to beat Flair
  1004. and win the title in 20 seconds. In doing so, Flair captured her ninth world
  1005. title in the quest for 17. The crowd went nuts for Bayley winning.
  1006.  
  1007. Rey Mysterio won the U.S. title from Samoa Joe. Joe seemed to have broken his
  1008. nose in the first minute from a Thesz press with Mysterio landing on his face.
  1009. Joe was bleeding badly and they were told to go home. So Joe went for a power
  1010. bomb and Mysterio reversed it and got the pin. Whether this was planned or not,
  1011. Joe’s left shoulder was way off the mat when the ref counted three. They called
  1012. attention to it like it was a planned spot. After the match, Joe gave Mysterio
  1013. two uranages and Mysterio legit separated his shoulder.
  1014.  
  1015. On the 5/28 Smackdown show they will make an announcement regarding the U.S.
  1016. title with Mysterio ‘s injury. Mysterio was examined this week in Birmingham,
  1017. AL, about possible surgery. Probably based on the diagnosis and how long he’ll
  1018. be out will determine the next step with the championship.
  1019.  
  1020. The show at the XL Center in Hartford drew a sellout of 10,500 fans.
  1021.  
  1022. The next WWE PPV is Super Showdown on 6/7 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. There is less
  1023. controversy because time has passed since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
  1024.  
  1025. At press time, it has been confirmed that four performers will not be appearing
  1026. on the show, Owens, Bryan, Aleister Black and Sami Zayn. It is believed they are
  1027. the only four. John Cena refused to do the last show and to the best of our
  1028. knowledge isn’t booked on this show. There were reports that Roman Reigns was
  1029. not going to do the last show, but it never came out because he was diagnosed
  1030. with a form of leukemia before the show and was out of action. Whether that was
  1031. accurate at the time, Reigns, in fact, is both billed for the show and nobody
  1032. internally, who knew of the other names out, were aware that anything is going
  1033. to change to keep the Reigns vs. Shane McMahon match from happening.
  1034.  
  1035. The reason for Bryan not going are likely the same reasons why he didn’t go to
  1036. the second show, after going the first time, a decision he had made before the
  1037. Khashoggi killing based on what happened at the first show.
  1038.  
  1039. With Owens, company sources have said he was asked by his family not to go.
  1040. Others have said there are a number of reasons, and all of the reasons
  1041. speculated on were accurate. The only reason I’ve seen speculated on had to do
  1042. with his close friend Sami Zayn not being allowed to go. We were told Owens
  1043. asked off the show and that when he did so, they never even asked him why, gave
  1044. him the show off and indicated there was no pressure on him to change his mind.
  1045.  
  1046. Zayn won’t be appearing, like on the first show (he was injured for the second
  1047. show), because of his Syrian ancestry, as the Saudis hate Syrians. Black not
  1048. going, like with Zayn, was not his decision. We were told it had to do with
  1049. tattoos he had that were religious in nature. It wasn’t made clear where the
  1050. Saudis told WWE he couldn’t appear due to those tattoos, or WWE made the
  1051. decision thinking the tattoos would offend the hosts.
  1052.  
  1053. WWE did promote the show coming from Jeddah’s King Abdullah International
  1054. Stadium, the 62,000 capacity stadium that the first major Saudi Arabia show took
  1055. place in. In promoting the PPV show in the U.S., they have banned any mention of
  1056. the word Saudi Arabia. Still, when the commercial for the show have aired live,
  1057. they are booed.
  1058.  
  1059. They are promoting the show by constantly saying it will be as big or bigger
  1060. than WrestleMania.
  1061.  
  1062. There are seven matches announced, which are Undertaker vs. Bill Goldberg in
  1063. what is being pushed as the biggest match on the show, HHH vs. Randy Orton in a
  1064. non-sanctioned match, which got a long video package this week promoting based
  1065. on their long background with Evolution and various feuds in the years after,
  1066. Kingston vs. Ziggler for the WWE title, Reigns vs. Shane McMahon, The Demon Finn
  1067. Balor vs. Andrade for the IC title, Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley and a 50 man
  1068. Battle Royal. Rollins vs. Lesnar is expected to be announced next week.
  1069.  
  1070. 1. The Usos beat Smackdown tag champs Daniel Bryan & Rowan in a non-title match
  1071. in 11:10. A good pre-show match. The finish saw Jimmy and then Jey both hit
  1072. topes on Rowan. Then they started giving Rowan superkicks. Then they did a
  1073. double tope on Rowan. Bryan went for a tope on all of them, but ended up hit as
  1074. he went to dive by a double superkick. Then both Usos came off opposite corner
  1075. with a double splash to pin Bryan. The impression was that this would lead to a
  1076. title match, but with Bryan not going to the next PPV, that will likely be on
  1077. television or on the Stomping Grounds show in Tacoma, where Bryan & Rowan would
  1078. likely be cheered. ***1/4
  1079.  
  1080. 2. Bayley won the Women’s Money in the Bank match over Naomi, Carmella, Natalya,
  1081. Ember Moon, Mandy Rose, Nikki Cross and Dana Brooke in 13:50. Cross was a late
  1082. sub for Alexa Bliss, who was pulled from the match for medical reasons. Bliss’
  1083. injury was officially not listed. Officially not listed these days usually means
  1084. concussion and there have been reports that was the case. The symptoms
  1085. described, having thrown up after taking a bump, is consistent with concussions.
  1086. What’s concerning is that it’s at least the second one she’s had in a short
  1087. period of time. This did get out as there was a late betting rush on Bayley to
  1088. win. The match was sloppy and choreographed but not in a smooth choreographed
  1089. way. All the women were brought back from Europe early to practice this match.
  1090. Some of the stunts got over big and the second half of the match was good. The
  1091. biggest spot was Moon coming off a ladder on the floor, jumping into the ring
  1092. and hitting Natalya with the eclipse. Carmella did a knee injury angle early
  1093. working with Mandy Rose. Carmella then came back out for the finish. Carmella
  1094. seemingly had it won, climbing slowly to sell her knee, but Sonya Deville came
  1095. out and pulled her down and Carmella was selling the knee again. Deville then
  1096. speared Carmella. Deville put Rose on her shoulders and was climbing to the top
  1097. of the ladder. When they got to the top, Bayley recovered, ran up the ladder,
  1098. knocked Deville and Rose off the grabbed the briefcase to win. ***1/4
  1099.  
  1100. Bayley, in her interview, brought up Sasha Banks and Banks being no Raw. Still,
  1101. there’s no sign of Banks.
  1102.  
  1103. The first Sami Zayn segment, with HHH was here.
  1104.  
  1105. 3. Rey Mysterio pinned Samoa Joe in 1:33 to win the U.S. title. Joe had the
  1106. bloody nose and a black eye from the Thesz press. They went right to the finish.
  1107. Mysterio and Dominick celebrated after the match. Joe attacked Mysterio, threw
  1108. him in the ring and gave him two uranages to lay him out. Joe then dared
  1109. Dominick to enter the ring. Joe then gave Mysterio a senton. Fans were expecting
  1110. Dominick to jump in, and if Rey isn’t out for any length of time and they don’t
  1111. drop the angle, that seems to be the end result of a slow build. Dominick helped
  1112. his father to the back after. *
  1113.  
  1114. 4. Shane McMahon beat The Miz in a cage match in 13:08. McMahon mostly played
  1115. chickenshit heel, trying to run away, beg off and climb out. Miz used chair
  1116. shots and then did the skull crushing finale on a chair but McMahon got his foot
  1117. on the ropes before the count of three and the ref held up the count. Then the
  1118. announcers said that in a cage match, you can’t stop a pin with a rope break and
  1119. the ref should have counted three, but he was afraid to because it was on Shane.
  1120. But then the ref never did another heel spot. Putting all this heat in two
  1121. straight matches on the ref comes across so minor league in booking. Miz teased
  1122. a skull crushing finale off the top rope but McMahon flipped him off the top.
  1123. McMahon tried to climb and Miz hit his leg with a chair. They both were sitting
  1124. on the top trading punches doing the Rivera-Gordman spot. Miz threw McMahon off
  1125. the cage. Miz did one of the clumsiest splashes off the top you’ll ever see for
  1126. a near fall. McMahon used a triangle but Miz bridged into a pin so McMahon let
  1127. go. There were several AEW chants during this match. The match ended with both
  1128. climbing to the top. Shane climbed over and Miz was holding him by his shirt.
  1129. Shane slipped out of his shirt and fell to the floor to win. **1/4
  1130.  
  1131. 5. Tony Nese pinned Ariya Daivari to keep the cruiserweight title in 9:20. The
  1132. idea is the previous match was supposed to be so hot that this match was the
  1133. buffer to take it down. The previous match wasn’t hot, but with 205 Live being
  1134. purgatory, nobody cared about this. Technically it was quite good. There was
  1135. nothing these guys could do as the fans chanted boring. Nese used a Fosbury Fo
  1136. dive and a 450 for a near fall. Why in a match like this somebody kicks out of a
  1137. 450 is beyond me. Daivari did a high fly flow and rainmaker (which tells you
  1138. what he’s been studying) but Nese kicked out. Nese did a top rope huracanrana
  1139. and running knees in the corner for the pin. ***
  1140.  
  1141. 6. Becky Lynch beat Lacey Evans in 8:37 to keep the Raw women’s title. Fans were
  1142. singing Lynch’s entrance music. Evans came out with a t-shirt gun and shot out
  1143. Evans dollar bills like Okada does in New Japan. Early on Evans, threw a
  1144. right-handed punch. It’s supposed to be her finisher and they didn’t use it as a
  1145. near fall nor did the announcers call it. Evans pulled out a handkerchief to
  1146. wipe sweat off her face and underarms and then put it in Lynch’s mouth. Lynch
  1147. did a missile dropkick that didn’t look good. Evans did a clumsy diamond cutter
  1148. and a knee. Overall there was nothing bad about the match but the crowd wasn’t
  1149. that into it. Evans used a chop block and went for the pin. For some reason the
  1150. ref didn’t count, but Lynch reversed into the disarm her for the submission. It
  1151. looked like they were using the ref not counting for a point of controversy for
  1152. Evans, but it was never followed up with. **
  1153.  
  1154. 7. Charlotte Flair beat Becky Lynch to win the Smackdown women’s title in 6:11.
  1155. Flair came out right after Evans lost and wanted the match right away. Lynch
  1156. agreed to it. The crowd was more into this match but they didn’t give them much
  1157. time. Flair went for natural selection off the apron, but Lynch held on and
  1158. Flair took a bump to the floor. Evans came out and hit Lynch with the punch.
  1159. Lynch then went for a surprise inside cradle, but Flair kicked out, hit a kick
  1160. to the head and got the pin. **3/4
  1161.  
  1162. Lynch went after Evans after the match. Flair helped out Evans and they were
  1163. working together to beat down Lynch. Bayley made the save, running down with the
  1164. briefcase. The crowd exploded because the cash-in is like a happening and the
  1165. crowd, more than anything, is into happenings. Bayley clotheslined Flair and
  1166. attacked Evans. Bayley gave Evans a Sato suplex and Flair then attacked Bayley.
  1167. The crowd was way into Bayley and wanting to see the cash-in. Bayley threw Flair
  1168. into the turnbuckles and then told the ref she was cashing in.
  1169.  
  1170. 8. Bayley pinned Charlotte Flair to win the Smackdown women’s title in :20.
  1171. Bayley hit the Randy Savage elbow right away to win the title. It got a big pop.
  1172. As far as a scenario went, this was easily the best thing on the show thus far.
  1173.  
  1174. Roman Reigns was to face Elias next. He was backstage and Elias hit Reigns from
  1175. behind with a guitar shot. Elias came out and did his singing routine. He went
  1176. to leave. Reigns came through the curtain and gave him a Superman punch.
  1177.  
  1178. 9. Roman Reigns pinned Elias in :09. Reigns hit a spear. This was really the
  1179. best way to do this. There were too many matches on the show to begin with. By
  1180. this point in the show, an Elias match lasting 10:00 would have likely struggled
  1181. so the crowd got to see their big move and Reigns got an explosive win.
  1182.  
  1183. 10. Seth Rollins retained the Universal title over A.J. Styles in 19:50. Both
  1184. guys looked in slightly better shape than usual. You could really see it with
  1185. Styles. There were dueling chants. Rollins did a tope knocking Styles into the
  1186. announces table. Then he did a second tope. Rollins did a buckle bomb and frog
  1187. splash for a near fall. The frog splash looked awesome in slow motion. It was
  1188. one big spot after another. Styles used a torture rack into a power bomb for a
  1189. near fall. Rollins used a reverse superplex, the move Ultimo Guerrero uses, for
  1190. a near fall. Styles did the moonsault into reverse DDT for a near fall. The
  1191. crowd got really hot. Rollins went for a curb stomp but Styles reversed it into
  1192. a Styles clash for a near fall. Styles went for the phenomenal forearm but
  1193. Rollins moved out of the way. Rollins used a ripcord knee, a superkick and got
  1194. the pin with a curb stomp. Styles confronted him after the match like he wanted
  1195. to fight him. Styles then offered his hand. Some fans booed, but when they shook
  1196. hands, the people cheered. ****½
  1197.  
  1198. The Lucha House Party came out for a six-man tag. Then Lars Sullivan came out.
  1199. Sullivan destroyed all three. Kalisto nailed Sullivan on the top of the head
  1200. with an elbow and Sullivan was bleeding all over the place. It actually made him
  1201. look more like a monster. Kalisto actually made a tweet saying basically that he
  1202. did it on purpose, but then took it down. Sullivan cleaned house and was
  1203. standing there with his head split open and blood everywhere.
  1204.  
  1205. 11. Kofi Kingston pinned Kevin Owens to retain the WWE title in 14:56. This was
  1206. good, but they made a mistake in that the crowd was more into Rollins vs. Styles
  1207. and after seeing that, they only wanted the men’s MITB match, so this match fell
  1208. flat. Kingston did a twisting double sledge off the to rope to the floor. Owens
  1209. threw Kingston into the post and gave him a splash on the apron. Kingston did a
  1210. double foot stomp on the apron. Kingston did a corkscrew plancha into a
  1211. superkick. Kingston at one point had Owens’ back and delivered elbow after elbow
  1212. tot the back of the head. Kingston kicked out of the pop up power bomb. Kingston
  1213. hit the Trouble in Paradise and Owens was knocked out of the ring. Owens came
  1214. back and hit a stunner, but Kingston got his hand on the ropes. Owens pulled
  1215. Kingston’s shoes off. Owens came off the top rope with a swanton, but Kingston
  1216. got his knees up. Kingston then hit Trouble in Paradise for the pin. ***½
  1217.  
  1218. 12. Brock Lesnar won the Men’s Money in the Bank match over Drew McIntyre,
  1219. Ricochet, Andrade, Finn Balor, Baron Corbin, Ali and Randy Orton in 19:02. This
  1220. was filled with crazy spots. Orton back suplexed Ali, Balor and Ricochet on the
  1221. table. Ricochet did a springboard flip dive. Fans were cheering for Orton as he
  1222. climbed but Andrade did a springboard knocking the ladder over. Ali did a tope
  1223. on McIntyre. Ricochet backdropped Andrade over the top rope. Corbin threw in a
  1224. ladder. McIntyre gave Ricochet an overhead throw into a ladder. Balor did a
  1225. double foot stomp on a ladder on Corbin. Balor was at the top of the ladder when
  1226. Andrade used a ladder to knock him off. Andrade made a ladder bridge and did a
  1227. sunset flip power bomb off the top of the ladder onto the ladder bridge on
  1228. Balor. Balor actually bounced when hitting the ladder, and fell on it a second
  1229. time. The spot tore the house down. Ali did a reverse huracanrana on Ricochet.
  1230. Ali used a Spanish fly on Andrade from almost the top of the ladder. Corbin
  1231. choke slammed Ali through the Spanish announcers table. Fans were chanting “You
  1232. still suck” at Corbin as he was cleaning house. Corbin turned on McIntyre.
  1233. Corbin choke slammed Balor on the ladder legs which had to have sucked. Ricochet
  1234. went for a tope on Corbin who caught him and laid him out with a Deep Six on the
  1235. floor. McIntyre hit the Claymore kick on Corbin on the floor. McIntyre suplexed
  1236. Balor on the ladder and threw Ricochet over the top rope ont a ladder bridge.
  1237. Orton his the RKO on McIntyre and Corbin threw Orton into the post. Corbin was
  1238. climbing and Ali climbed up. Ali flipped Corbin over the top rope. Ali climbed
  1239. up and had it won when Lesnar’s music played. Lesnar destroyed Ali and pulled
  1240. the briefcase down to win. ****½
  1241.  
  1242.  
  1243. Now that we are at nearly the halfway point in the Best of the Super Juniors
  1244. tournament, you can see a completely different philosophy from the past few
  1245. years.
  1246.  
  1247. The concentration is on longer and more psychological matches, where you work a
  1248. slow building match, setting the stage for the last few minutes where the crowd
  1249. explodes.
  1250.  
  1251. Perhaps the most notable examples of the matches I’ve seen were Rocky Romero vs.
  1252. Will Ospreay and Dragon Lee vs. Sho. In the past, Dragon Lee means nonstop high
  1253. spots and oohs and aahs. But with Sho, they did a match on 5/15 that started
  1254. slow. They did some big flying spots but the crowd was quiet with Sho working on
  1255. the arm, but the last ten minutes the place exploded. Then they teased the idea
  1256. of a 30:00 draw before Lee hit the desnucadora, his finisher, at the 27:10 mark.
  1257.  
  1258. Ospreay vs. Romero, the semifinal on 5/16, was similar. It actually felt slow in
  1259. spots, even with Romero doing a tope and Ospreay doing a space flying tiger drop
  1260. early. But it was mostly Romero working on the neck. But the last eight minutes
  1261. or so again were incredible.
  1262.  
  1263. The best matches I’ve seen this week were the 5/22 Ospreay vs. Phantasmo match,
  1264. which unlike the previous two matches, started out incredible and for the most
  1265. part stayed there. I’d go ****3/4 and it easily could be higher. The one thing
  1266. about every Ospreay match is that he works so much smarter and is so much better
  1267. at being versatile, essentially working with a variety of styles and making
  1268. every match seem spectacular. And he’s doing it night-after-night. Phantasmo,
  1269. playing major heel to Ospreay’s babyface, won in 26:40 after both guys kicked
  1270. out of everything imaginable, including Ospreay surviving a low blow and a
  1271. torture rack airplane spin neckbreaker, before his version of an Angel’s wings,
  1272. the CR 2, gave Ospreay his first tournament loss. I’d go ****½ for Sho vs. Lee
  1273. and Ospreay vs,. Romero.
  1274.  
  1275. Shingo Takagi and Phantasmo both remained unbeaten in New Japan rings, with
  1276. Phantasmo in his debut full tour while Takagi remains not having lost a fall
  1277. himself in his nearly eight months with the promotion.
  1278.  
  1279. Going into the 5/23 show at Korakuen Hall, here are the standings:
  1280.  
  1281. A block: 1. Shingo Takagi and Taiji Ishimori 4-0; 3. Dragon Lee 3-1; 4. Tiger
  1282. Mask, Marty Scurll and Jonathan Gresham 2-2; 7. Sho, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and
  1283. Titan 1-3; 10. Taka Michinoku 0-4.
  1284.  
  1285. B block: 1. El Phantasmo 4-0; 2. Ospreay and Ryusuke Taguchi 3-1; 4. Robbie
  1286. Eagles, Bandido and Yoh 2-2; 7. Douki, Rocky Romero and Bush 1-3; 10.Ren Narita
  1287. 0-4.
  1288.  
  1289. Results for the week:
  1290.  
  1291. MAY 16 - AOMORI INDUSTRIAL HAL - 1,403 - B BLOCK
  1292.  
  1293. 1. Eagles beat Narita in 9:18 with a Turbo backpack.
  1294.  
  1295. 2. Yoh beat Bandido in 13:56 with a dragon suplex.
  1296.  
  1297. 3. Phantasmo beat Bushi in 10:31 with the CR 2.
  1298.  
  1299. 4. Ospreay beat Romero in 25:45 with the storm breaker.
  1300.  
  1301. 5. Taguchi beat Douki in 21:22 with the ankle lock.
  1302.  
  1303.  
  1304.  
  1305. MAY 18 - YAMAGATA BIG WING - 1,213 - A BLOCK
  1306.  
  1307. 1. Sho beat Michinoku in 10:06 with shock arrow
  1308.  
  1309. 2. Scurll beat Tiger MAS in 13:01 with the black plague.
  1310.  
  1311. 3. Ishimori beat Titan in 11:42 with the bloody cross.
  1312.  
  1313. 4. Lee beat Gresham in 9:42 with the desnucadora
  1314.  
  1315. 5. Takagi beat Kanemaru in 15:24 with last of the dragon.
  1316.  
  1317.  
  1318.  
  1319. MAY 19 - YAMAGATA BIG WING - 1,101 - B BLOCK
  1320.  
  1321. 1. Romero beat Narita in 12:28 with an armbar.
  1322.  
  1323. 2. Bandido beat Douki in 9:55 with the 21 plex.
  1324.  
  1325. 3. Phantasmo beat Eagles in 10:20 with the CR 2.
  1326.  
  1327. 4. Ospreay beat Yoh in 24:43 with the Storm breaker.
  1328.  
  1329. 5. Taguchi beat Bushi in 14:56 with the ankle lock.
  1330.  
  1331.  
  1332.  
  1333. MAY 22 - TOKYO KORAKUEN HALL - 1,679 SELLOUT - A & B BLOCK
  1334.  
  1335. 1. Ishimori beat Michinoku in 4:56 with the bloody cross.
  1336.  
  1337. 2. Bandido beat Narita in 6:19 with the 21 plex. This was a tremendous short
  1338. match. One of the best you’ll see with that kind of time constraint.
  1339.  
  1340. 3. Gresham beat Titan in 10:55 with the Octopus clutch.
  1341.  
  1342. 4. Yoh beat Romero in 13:29 with stargazer.
  1343.  
  1344. 5. Lee beat Tiger Mask in 8:59 with the desnucadora.
  1345.  
  1346. 6. Bushi beat Douki in 7:13 with the MX.
  1347.  
  1348. 7. Kanemaru beat Sho in 4:21 via count out.
  1349.  
  1350. 8. Eagles beat Taguchi in 11:13 with the seat belt.
  1351.  
  1352. 9. Takagi beat Scurll in 14:07 withy last of the dragon.
  1353.  
  1354. 10. Phantasmo beat Ospreay in 26:40 for the CR 2.
  1355.  
  1356. Coming up this week:
  1357.  
  1358. 5/24 at Korakuen Hall at 5:30 a.m.: A block has Tiger Mask vs. Sho, Scurll vs.
  1359. Kanemaru, Takagi vs. Michinoku, Gresham vs. Ishimori and Lee vs. Titan. B block
  1360. has Eagles vs. Douki, Taguchi vs. Bandido, Yoh vs. Bushi, Romero vs. Phantasmo
  1361. and Ospreay vs. Narita.
  1362.  
  1363. 5/26 in Chiba at 5:30 a.m: A block has Gresham vs. Kanemaru, Titan vs. Scurll,
  1364. Tiger Mask vs. Takagi, Lee vs. Michinoku and Sho vs. Ishimori. B block has
  1365. Romero vs. Douki, Bandido vs. Bushi, Yoh vs. Phantasmo, Taguchi vs. Narita and
  1366. Ospreay vs. Eagles.
  1367.  
  1368. 5/29 in Nagoya at 5 a.m. for A block has Scurll vs. Michinoku, Sho vs. Titan,
  1369. Tiger Mask vs. Ishimori, Gresham vs. Takagi and Lee vs. Kanemaru.
  1370.  
  1371. 5/30 in Osaka at 5:30 a.m. for B block has Bandido vs. Eagles, Yoh vs. Narita,
  1372. Romero vs. Bushi, Taguchi vs. Phantasmo and Ospreay vs. Douki.
  1373.  
  1374.  
  1375. UFC from Rochester on 5/18
  1376.  
  1377. By Ryan Frederick
  1378.  
  1379. With both men finding themselves in what would seemingly be called a crossroads
  1380. fight, Rafael Dos Anjos took home the win over Kevin Lee in the main event of
  1381. UFC On ESPN+ 10 on 5/18, the company’s debut in Rochester, NY
  1382.  
  1383. It capped off a night in which nine fights on the card ended with a finish,
  1384. including some highlight-reel knockouts and impressive UFC debuts.
  1385.  
  1386. Dos Anjos and Lee had a good, grueling and tense main event that went
  1387. back-and-forth and was very close. The story was Lee gassed out while Dos Anjos,
  1388. who has an incredible gas tank, came on strong. The finish saw Dos Anjos reverse
  1389. position on a takedown from Lee, get the mount, which set up an arm-triangle
  1390. choke and got Lee to tap at the 3:47 mark of the fourth round.
  1391.  
  1392. That ended a two-fight losing skid for Dos Anjos and put him right back into the
  1393. title picture at welterweight. His two losses came to the current champion,
  1394. Kamaru Usman, and the top contender, Colby Covington, so Dos Anjos seemingly
  1395. would maybe be only one more win away from another title shot. A fight next
  1396. against Santiago Ponzinibbio makes a whole lot of sense, or if Ponzinibbio gets
  1397. the fight against Robbie Lawler, perhaps Leon Edwards could be next for him.
  1398.  
  1399. Lee was making the move up to 170 pounds in search of a fresh start after losing
  1400. two of his last three. Physically, he looked the same but was giving up a little
  1401. size to Dos Anjos, who isn’t a very large welterweight. Lee’s conditioning
  1402. seemed off at the higher weight. He is someone who would be among those who
  1403. would benefit the most with the UFC adding a 165-pound weight class. However,
  1404. that continues to look unlikely.
  1405.  
  1406. Lee has a real hard time making the lightweight limit, but making 170 was a
  1407. breeze. He only had to cut one pound the morning of weigh-ins as opposed to the
  1408. usual 12-pound cut. A decision whether he stays at welterweight or goes back to
  1409. lightweight hasn’t been made. He is going to have some trouble with bigger guys
  1410. at welterweight unless he gains some size, which may hurt him in other areas.
  1411.  
  1412. The show, airing entirely on ESPN+, was an easy watch, even at a six-hour
  1413. length. It started off strong with Julio Arce knocking Julian Erosa our cold
  1414. with a head kick in the opener, and continued with strong finishes throughout.
  1415.  
  1416. Arguably the most impressive fighter on the show was Michel Pereira, who was
  1417. making his UFC debut. At just 25, he already had 33 pro fights under his belt.
  1418. He was emotional during his walkout as he was crying, but then started
  1419. breakdancing once inside the Octagon. During the fight, he was throwing lots of
  1420. flashy kicks & punches, and using the cage to throw strikes as well. He finished
  1421. Danny Roberts in the first round after landing a flying knee then putting
  1422. Roberts out cold with a straight right hand. If he’s able to continue to fight
  1423. like that, he may be the welterweight version of Johnny Walker.
  1424.  
  1425. Another newcomer scoring a big win was women’s featherweight Felicia Spencer,
  1426. upsetting Megan Anderson. Spencer was a +175 underdog and gave up six inches,
  1427. but submitted Anderson in the first with a rear-naked choke, and made it look
  1428. easy. The company had pegged Anderson as a potential star as she is a tall,
  1429. good-looking woman with a good look, but she has now gone 1-2 in the UFC.
  1430.  
  1431. Two veterans scoring wins were Vicente Luque and Charles Oliveira. Luque beat
  1432. short-notice replacement Derrick Krantz, while Oliveira fought Nik Lentz for the
  1433. third time. Oliveira looked very impressive in knocking Lentz out in the second
  1434. round, now having two wins over him to go with a no contest in their three
  1435. fights. Amazingly, in Oliveira’s 15th UFC win, it was his first by knockout as
  1436. he has scored a UFC record 13 submission wins. It was also Oliveira’s fifth
  1437. straight win, setting him in position for a big fight.
  1438.  
  1439. Luque finished Krantz with punches in the first round. Krantz took the fight on
  1440. five days’ notice as a replacement for Neil Magny. Magny publicly announced that
  1441. he was pulled from the fight for a USADA violation, which is now going through
  1442. the investigation process. They no longer publicly announce failures until the
  1443. process is completed.
  1444.  
  1445. Krantz had a great story. He was featured on the most recent episode of Dana
  1446. White’s Looking For A Fight. He scored a big win in front of White, who wasn’t
  1447. even there to scout him, at a LFA event in March. He got on the mic and pleaded
  1448. for White to give him a chance. White said that despite him being 31 and having
  1449. a 24-10 record, he would put him on the Contender Series this summer. When Magny
  1450. was pulled, he campaigned hard for the fight on social media, and got the call.
  1451. He had Luque in trouble early before Luque settled in and finished him.
  1452.  
  1453. The event at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester drew 8,132 fans for a gate of
  1454. $643,840.
  1455.  
  1456. The $50,000 bonuses went to Aspen Ladd and Sijara Eubanks for Fight Of The
  1457. Night, while Performance Of The Night went to Michel Pereira and Grant Dawson.
  1458. There were lots of contenders for the performance bonuses.
  1459.  1. Julio Arce (16-3) beat Julian Erosa (22-8) in 1:49 in the third round in a
  1460. featherweight fight. Arce was controlling the pace in the first round and landed
  1461. more and got a takedown at the end of the round. Erosa was pushing more in the
  1462. second and both men were landing but Arce was landing harder. Both men had
  1463. takedowns stuffed. It was close after two and I had it even. Both were landing
  1464. in the third and Arce landed a right hand and then followed it with a head kick
  1465. that knocked Erosa out cold. Good finish by Arce.
  1466.  2. Zak Cummings (23-6) beat Trevin Giles (11-1) in 4:01 in the third round in a
  1467. middleweight fight. Giles was fighting for the first time since December 2017.
  1468. Cummings was landing body kicks in the first but Giles was landing the jab and
  1469. cut Cummings open, and he landed a hard knee at the end. I gave the first to
  1470. Giles. Giles was loading up on his punches in the second but Cummings was
  1471. keeping him away with kicks. Giles was more active in the second and I had it
  1472. for him but it was close. Cummings was being more aggressive in the third and
  1473. dropped Giles with a right hand and then locked in a tight guillotine choke and
  1474. got Giles to tap. Real good finish by Cummings.
  1475.  3. Ed Herman (24-14 1 NC) beat Patrick Cummins (10-7) in 3:39 in a light
  1476. heavyweight fight. Both were landing hard punches. Cummins took Herman down and
  1477. then rocked him with a right hand. Herman landed a big knee that wobbled Cummins
  1478. and Cummins fell to the mat and Herman landed big punches to finish the fight.
  1479. Great finish by Herman, who won first the first time since January 2016. He was
  1480. pleading to be put into the UFC video game during his post-fight interview.
  1481.  4. Grant Dawson (14-1) beat Michael Trizano (8-1) in 2:29 in the second round
  1482. in a featherweight fight. Dawson was immediately coming out looking to take
  1483. Trizano down to the mat. Dawson went for eight takedowns in the first round, but
  1484. only got two, and at one point Trizano hurt him with a punch but Dawson took him
  1485. right down. Dawson got the first. Dawson got a takedown in the first minute in
  1486. the second round and got to mount and was landing punches before Trizano gave up
  1487. his back. Dawson was able to get the rear-naked choke locked in to get Trizano
  1488. to submit, handing Trizano his first career loss. It was a great showing for
  1489. Dawson and he looks like a real threat. I'm not sure it was worthy of a bonus on
  1490. this show but he got it.
  1491.  5. Michel Pereira (23-9 2 NC) beat Danny Roberts (16-5) in 1:47 in a
  1492. welterweight fight. Pereira came in with a lot of hype, known for his exciting
  1493. fights. He was crying and dancing during his walkout and introduction. He was
  1494. throwing all kinds of kicks and punches, including rolling kick attempts.
  1495. Pereira was also using the fence to throw Superman punches and other attacks.
  1496. The crowd was really into him and loving everything he was doing. Roberts looked
  1497. confused and was rocked early. The finish came when Pereira landed a flying knee
  1498. and a straight right hand knocked Roberts out cold. It was a hell of a finish
  1499. and this was a real star-making showing, and Roberts is a very tough fighter, so
  1500. it was extremely impressive. Pereira is still young at 25-years-old, though he
  1501. does have a lot of mileage on him with 34 fights already. He's got a chance to
  1502. produce exciting fights and I could see the UFC pushing him sooner rather than
  1503. later.
  1504.  6. Desmond Green (23-8) beat Charles Jourdain (9-2) via unanimous decision on
  1505. scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 in a lightweight fight. Green is from Rochester
  1506. and was begging to be on the show even though he just fought on 3/31. Jourdain
  1507. was signed as a two-division champion from the TKO promotion, but has fought
  1508. mainly at featherweight. Green had the crowd behind him big time. Green won the
  1509. first round based on landing more punches and scoring a takedown while avoiding
  1510. flying knees from Jourdain. The second round was close as Jourdain was landing
  1511. leg kicks and Green was being more patient. I had it for Jourdain. Third round
  1512. was again close as Jourdain was doing damage on the feet but Green got three
  1513. takedowns late in the round and that looked to be the difference. I had it 29-28
  1514. for Green. All but one media scores were for Green.
  1515.  7. Aspen Ladd (8-0) beat Sijara Eubanks (4-3) via unanimous decision on scores
  1516. of 30-26, 29-27 and 29-28 in a women's bantamweight fight. These two had fought
  1517. before in Invicta. Eubanks made weight easily as this was her first fight since
  1518. moving up from flyweight, where she had lots of trouble making weight. This was
  1519. one of the most exciting fights on the show. Both ladies got takedowns in the
  1520. first and had advantages on the ground, but Eubanks rocked Ladd late and got a
  1521. late knockdown, and if there had been more time, she could have finished it, so
  1522. Eubanks got the first. The second round was complete domination by Ladd. Ladd
  1523. got a takedown and was in mount and in control of Eubanks the entire round,
  1524. including having two submission attempts and ending the round landing big from
  1525. the top. It was a clear 10-8 round. Third round was real close. Both were tiring
  1526. and landing punches. Ladd was advancing position more but Eubanks was landing
  1527. with more volume. Ladd was mixing her strikes more and had clinch control more.
  1528. Eubanks outlanded her 54-43 in the third. It could have gone either way. I had
  1529. it 29-27 for Ladd. All three judges had it for her. Two gave her a 10-8 second,
  1530. but one judge gave her all three rounds, and that was a bad scorecard. Media
  1531. scores were 61% for Ladd, 17% for Eubanks, and 22% for a draw. Real good fight
  1532. that got the best fight bonus, and they deserved it.
  1533.  8. Davi Ramos (10-2) beat Austin Hubbard (10-3) via unanimous decision on
  1534. scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 30-27 in a lightweight fight. Ramos is a submission
  1535. wizard while Hubbard was making his UFC debut. Ramos looked a bit off in the
  1536. fight as it wasn't his usual dominant showing. First round was both landing
  1537. punches but Ramos got a takedown and was working for a choke. Second round was
  1538. more of the same with both landing and Ramos getting a late takedown. Third
  1539. round was Ramos being aggressive and he got a takedown. Ramos was landing
  1540. punches from the top with Hubbard covering up and Ramos almost had a finish, but
  1541. the referee inexplicably stood them up while Ramos was landing punches. That was
  1542. one of the worst stand-ups ever. It could have almost cost Ramos the fight as
  1543. Hubbard started landing but the fight went the distance. Keith Peterson was the
  1544. referee, and he is a really good referee, but that stand-up was not a fine
  1545. moment for him. I had it 30-27 for Ramos as did all media scores. It was
  1546. probably the most boring fight on the show, but still alright, so that says a
  1547. lot for the quality of this show.
  1548.  9. Charles Oliveira (27-8 1 NC) beat Nik Lentz (30-10-2 1 NC) in 2:11 in the
  1549. second round in a lightweight fight. This was their third time fighting each
  1550. other, and the fourth time they were scheduled to fight. Their first fight in
  1551. June 2011 ended in a no contest after Oliveira landed an illegal knee. They were
  1552. to fight again in September 2014, but Oliveira missed weight and pulled out of
  1553. the fight on fight day. They fought again in May 2015, which Oliveira won by
  1554. submission. Oliveira has greatly improved since then. He was being aggressive in
  1555. the first, cutting Lentz open and reversing positions on a Lentz takedown, and
  1556. landed late elbows. The second round saw Oliveira get a guillotine locked in
  1557. tight off a Lentz takedown which almost got Lentz to tap. Oliveira did land an
  1558. illegal upkick but didn't lose a point. They got up and Lentz threw a kick which
  1559. Oliveira caught, and Oliveira sent him to the mat with a hard right hand that
  1560. landed flush on the draw, and finished Lentz off with more punches on the
  1561. ground. It was Oliveira's fifth straight win, and he is still only 28-years-old
  1562. despite being around seemingly forever. It is time for him to get a big fight at
  1563. lightweight and this may have been the best he has ever looked.
  1564.  10. Vicente Luque (16-6-1) beat Derrick Krantz (24-11) in 3:32 in a
  1565. welterweight fight. Krantz took the fight on Tuesday of fight week. Krantz hurt
  1566. Luque early with big punches and was threatening with submissions. Luque escaped
  1567. those and got to his feet and quickly took over. Luque stumbled Krantz with a
  1568. hard left hand and then knocked him down with a punch and then started landing
  1569. punches on the ground until it was stopped. That was Luque's fifth straight win,
  1570. all of them coming by stoppage. He was calling out Santiago Ponzinibbio for a
  1571. fight in the UFC's debut in Uruguay later this year. He deserves a high-profile
  1572. fight.
  1573.  11. Felicia Spencer (7-0) beat Megan Anderson (9-4) in 3:24 in a women's
  1574. featherweight fight. This was a battle of the last two Invicta 145-pound
  1575. champions. Anderson was a crowd favorite here. This fight was all Spencer,
  1576. though. Spencer was able to get the back early on and dragged Anderson to the
  1577. ground and softened her up with punches. Spencer was able to flatten Anderson
  1578. out to find the rear-naked choke and get Anderson to submit. This was a huge win
  1579. for Spencer in her UFC debut. There aren't many featherweights in the UFC and
  1580. Cris Cyborg was angling to fight Spencer, but that is because Cyborg wants to
  1581. fight and there are very few options. Spencer was at least open to the idea.
  1582.  12. Ian Heinisch (13-1) beat Antonio Carlos Junior (10-3 1 NC) via unanimous
  1583. decision on scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 in a middleweight fight. Carlos
  1584. Junior looked huge in there. It was all his round in the first as he got three
  1585. takedowns and Heinisch barely landed anything in the round. Junior had the back
  1586. late and was working for a choke. It was close to a 10-8 round. Heinisch came on
  1587. better to start the second but accidentally landed a head-butt, which hurt
  1588. Junior and took him out of the round as Heinisch was in total control. Junior
  1589. got a takedown but Heinisch ended up on top and was landing and got close to a
  1590. finish. It was 1-1 after two. Junior was tired in the third and Heinisch got a
  1591. takedown and landed a knee that almost knocked Junior out. Heinisch was also
  1592. stuffing takedowns and landing big punches, especially to close out the round. I
  1593. had it 29-28 for Heinisch as did all but one media score. It was a big win for
  1594. Heinisch as Carlos Junior had looked really good in his recent outings, and
  1595. Heinisch is now a name to be watched beating a ranked opponent. Heinisch called
  1596. out both Derek Brunson and Jack Hermansson.
  1597.  13. Rafael Dos Anjos (29-11) beat Kevin Lee (17-5) in 3:47 in the fourth round
  1598. in a welterweight fight. Both men looked good early on here. It was a very tense
  1599. fight from the onset. Both men got takedowns in the first, but Lee got the first
  1600. one very early on and did more with his. Lee also landed better punches and was
  1601. in control of the clinch a lot in the round. I had the first for Lee. Lee got an
  1602. early takedown in the second but they got to their feet and Dos Anjos rocked him
  1603. with a head kick and was controlling the back. The action then started to slow
  1604. in the round and both landed hard punches, but the volume belonged to Dos Anjos
  1605. as he tied it up. The third round was the most interesting round in the fight.
  1606. Dos Anjos got two takedowns while Lee got three. Dos Anjos landed way more
  1607. punches but Lee seemed to have more control in the round, though he didn't do a
  1608. whole lot. It seemed like the takedowns Lee were getting were starting to take
  1609. their toll on him, but I thought he did enough to take a 2-1 lead into the
  1610. fourth. Lee was tired coming out for the round and Dos Anjos looked as fresh as
  1611. ever. They both landed hard punches and then Dos Anjos hurt Lee with a body
  1612. kick. That took Lee out of it. Lee was going for a takedown but Dos Anjos
  1613. started to take him down. It ended up with Dos Anjos on top of Lee and moving
  1614. right into the mount. Lee was trapped and wasn't really defending and Dos Anjos
  1615. quickly found an opening for the arm-triangle choke, locked it in and got Lee to
  1616. tap. It wasn't the most exciting main event, but still a good fight and a good
  1617. way to end the show.
  1618.  
  1619.  
  1620. Smackdown on 5/21 drew 1,983,000 viewers, up 8.2 percent from the record-low for
  1621. a live show of 1,833,000 the previous week.
  1622.  
  1623. Smackdown beat the St. Louis Blues vs. San Jose Sharks series final that did
  1624. 1,807,000 viewers.
  1625.  
  1626. It finished eighth for the night on cable. It was down only 9.7 percent from the
  1627. same week last year.
  1628.  
  1629. The show did a 0.40 in 12-17 (identical to last week), 0.42 in 18-34 (up 16.7
  1630. percent), 0.80 in 35-49 (up 5.3 percent) and 0.87 in 50+ (up 8.8 percent).
  1631.  
  1632. The audience was 65.6 percent male in 18-49 and 69.4 percent male in 12-17.
  1633.  
  1634. Miz & Mrs., for the final episode of this season, did 1,037,000 viewers, it
  1635. second best mark of the season.
  1636.  
  1637. The audience retention from Smackdown was 74 percent in women 18-49, 55 percent
  1638. in men 18-49, 74 percent in girls 12-17, 65 percent in boys 12-17 and 41 percent
  1639. over 50. Essentially all those commercials of Miz saying he doesn’t have a Dad
  1640. bod intrigued the WWE audience more than usual to stick around.
  1641.  
  1642. The combination of being the day after a PPV show that built a strong curiosity
  1643. ending with Brock Lesnar winning Money in the Bank, combined with a show-long
  1644. tease of Lesnar cashing in, led to Raw on 5/20 doing its best numbers since 4/15
  1645. with a 1.73 rating and 2,521,000 viewers (1.64 viewers per home, an unusually
  1646. large number meaning that this show had more cross-over in home appeal than
  1647. usual shows).
  1648.  
  1649. This came even going against the Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail
  1650. Blazers game that did 7,788,000 viewers. Raw finished seventh for the night on
  1651. cable, trailing only NBA and news related programming.
  1652.  
  1653. The show was down only 5.2 percent from the 2,659,000 viewers from the same week
  1654. last year, which also went against NBA playoffs. It was the lowest year-to-year
  1655. decline of Raw since the 9/3 episode, which was the week before football season.
  1656.  
  1657. The rating was up 3.0 percent but viewership was up 7.3 percent from last week’s
  1658. show due to the usually large viewers per home. Last week’s show also didn’t
  1659. have NBA competition. Even though the show was heavily geared, between putting
  1660. both Kofi Kingston & Seth Rollins in the main event and teasing that Lesnar was
  1661. going to cash in, plus the creation of the 24/7 title, there was still a 14
  1662. percent first-to-third hour decline. It wasn’t as bad as most third hours, but
  1663. still wouldn’t be good.
  1664.  
  1665. In the decline, it was 17 percent with women 18-49, 11 percent with men 18-49,
  1666. only one percent with girls 12-17 (this audience stayed better than in a long
  1667. time as usually this is a major declining audience as the show goes on) and 19
  1668. percent with boys 12-17, plus 14 percent among those over 50.
  1669.  
  1670. The first hour did 2,681,000 viewers. The second hour did 2,583,000 viewers. The
  1671. third hour did 2,299,000 viewers.
  1672.  
  1673. The audience that increased was over the age of 35, so that’s who MITB and
  1674. Lesnar seemed to appeal to, although it was also strongly up with teenage girls,
  1675. but not with teenage boys.
  1676.  
  1677. The show did a 0.54 in 12-17 (up 1.9 percent from last week), 0.63 in 18-34 (up
  1678. 3.3 percent), 1.13 in 35-49 (up 12.4 percent) and 1.00 in 50+ (up 6.4 percent).
  1679.  
  1680. The audience was 63.4 percent male in 18-49 and 56.6 percent male in 12-17.
  1681.  
  1682. The final episode of the Dark Side of the Ring series on 5/15 no Fabulous Moolah
  1683. did 200,000 viewers, which was down from the three highest which were the Texas
  1684. related shows on Bruiser Brody, Kevin Von Erich and Gino Hernandez. Interesting
  1685. that the three World Class shows beat the three WWE shows (Randy Savage, which
  1686. was the lowest but also the first week, the Montreal screwjob and Moolah).
  1687.  
  1688.  
  1689. This is the first issue of the current set. If you’ve got a (1) on your address
  1690. label, it means your subscription expires in two more weeks with a single and a
  1691. double issue.
  1692.  
  1693. Renewal rates for the printed Observer in the United States are $13.50 for four
  1694. issues (which includes $4 for postage and handling), $25 for eight, $35.50 for
  1695. 12, $46 for 16, $69 for 24, $92 for 32, $115 for 40, $149.50 for 52 up through
  1696. $184 for 64 issues.
  1697.  
  1698. For Canada and Mexico, the rates are $15 for four issues (which includes $6 for
  1699. postage and handling), $27 for eight, $38.50 for 12, $50 for 16, $75 or 24, $100
  1700. for 32, $125 for 40 issues, $162.50 for 52 and $200 for 64.
  1701.  
  1702. For the rest of the world, the rates are $17 for four issues (which includes $9
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  1705.  
  1706. You can also get the Observer on the web at www.wrestlingobserver.com for $11.99
  1707. per month or $119.99 per year for a premium membership that includes daily audio
  1708. updates, Figure Four Weekly, special articles and a message board. If you are a
  1709. premium member and still want hard copies of the Observer, you can get them for
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  1711. of the world.
  1712.  
  1713. All subscription renewals should be sent to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter,
  1714. P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228. You can also renew via Visa or
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  1722. well a phone number you can be contacted at.
  1723.  
  1724. All letters to the editor, reports from live shows and any other correspondence
  1725. pertaining to this publication should also be sent to the above address.
  1726.  
  1727. This publication is copyright material and no portion of the Observer may be
  1728. reprinted without the expressed consent of publisher/writer Dave Meltzer. The
  1729. Observer is also produced by Derek Sabato.
  1730.  
  1731. Fax messages can be sent to the Observer 24 hours a day at (408) 244-3402. Phone
  1732. messages can be left 24 hours a day at (408) 244-2455. E-mails can be sent to
  1733. Dave@wrestlingobserver.com
  1734.  
  1735.  
  1736. CMLL: CMLL announced that they are now going to peak for a major show every
  1737. month rather than the current deal where they just run regular shows most weeks
  1738. and maybe three big ones a year. The first show will be 5/31 called Juicio Final
  1739. (Final Justice) and be built around Ultimo Guerrero vs. Mascara Ano 2000 in a
  1740. hair vs. hair match. This bout has been built up for weeks and given Mascara is
  1741. 61 years old, it’s probably not going to be that good, but these are legit
  1742. Mexican wrestling legends. They will also have a women’s hair vs. hair match
  1743. with Amapola vs. Kaho Kobayashi, and a CMLL tag team title match with Diamante
  1744. Azul & Valiente defending against Gran Guerrero & Euforia. The rest of the show
  1745. has Caristico & Mistico & Volador Jr. against Cavernario & Mr. Niebla & Negro
  1746. Casas, Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Soberano Jr. vs. Mephisto & Ephesto &
  1747. Luciferno, and opening with Black Panther & Blue Panther Jr. & Rey Cometa vs.
  1748. Kawato San & Misterioso Jr.; & Virus.
  1749.  
  1750. The company got a new television deal on TV Mexiquense, a public broadcasting
  1751. channel in Mexico, airing every Sunday at Noon starting on 6/2. The plan is to
  1752. air the weekly Sunday shows at Arena Mexico, which are the only ones currently
  1753. not streaming, on a one week delay
  1754.  
  1755. They also announced a three-week Copa Dinastia tournament. This will be an
  1756. eight-week tag team tournament for shows on 6/7, 6/14 and the finals on 6/21
  1757.  
  1758. The 5/17 show at Arena Mexico was said to be a nothing card. The main event went
  1759. two falls and only 8:00, so the show ended much earlier than usual. Cavernario,
  1760. who replaced Matt Taven who was originally set for a tour here and it was
  1761. canceled, teamed with Cuatrero & Sanson, to beat Mistico & Caristico & Valiente
  1762. (replacing Volador Jr.) with Cavernario unmasking Mistico and pinning him in the
  1763. second fall to set up a singles match. The Ultimo Guerrero vs. Mascara Ano 2000
  1764. match continued being built as Ultimo & Gran Guerrero & Euforia got a DQ win
  1765. over Mascara & Mephisto & Ephesto when Mascara gain gave Ultimo a low blow, but
  1766. this time was caught doing so. Negro Casas pinned Soberano Jr., in a singles
  1767. match with a Canadian Destroyer (Casas at 59 learning new moves) and his Casita
  1768. cradle. Hechicero suffered a hand injury in a trios match earlier in the card
  1769. where as soon as he was hurt, they rushed right to the finish
  1770.  
  1771. Volador Jr. missed events this week due to an injury. There was no explanation
  1772. past an injury
  1773.  
  1774. 5/24 will be the last angles built for 5/31, with a Mistico vs. Cavernario
  1775. singles match with no stips, Ultimo Guerrero & Casas & Felino vs. Mascara Ano
  1776. 2000 & Cuatrero & Forastero, Soberano Jr. & Stuka Jr. & Valiente vs. Gran
  1777. Guerrero & Euforia & Templario plus Kobayashi and Amapola in a trios match.
  1778.  
  1779. AAA: The company’s next major event is Verano de Escandalo, their version of
  1780. SummerSlam, which takes place on 6/16 in Merida. The eight-match card was
  1781. announced as headlined by Dr. Wagner Jr. & Psycho Clown vs. Blue Demon Jr. &
  1782. Taurus, which will be designed to add more heat to the Wagner vs Demon hair vs.
  1783. mask match at TripleMania. The Young Bucks return to defend the AAA tag team
  1784. titles against Pentagon Jr. & Fenix. Obviously if the titles change hands at
  1785. Double or Nothing, this would be the rematch. But it sort of feels like, if the
  1786. Young Bucks were to win in Las Vegas, that would be two wins in a row, so this
  1787. would be the loss. I’d have thought that rematch would have been saved for
  1788. TripleMania. The rest of the show has El Hijo del Vikingo & La Parka & Myzteziz
  1789. Jr. vs. La Hiedra & Rey Escorpion & El Texano Jr., Aerostar & Pagano & Puma King
  1790. vs. Chessman & Killer Kross & Monsther Clown, Laredo Kid & Taya Valkyrie v. Daga
  1791. & Tessa Blanchard (almost surely leading to Taya vs. Blanchard in a singles
  1792. program, perhaps for TripleMania or Madison Square Garden), Maximo & Mamba vs.
  1793. Australian Suicide & Sammy Guevara, Faby Apache vs. El Hijo del Tirantes, and
  1794. opening with Keyra vs. Lady Shani vs. Chik Tormenta. Notable is no follow-up
  1795. here on the Cody vs. Taurus angle shot at Rey de Reyes
  1796.  
  1797. Forbes Magazine listed Marisela Pena, the owner of the promotion, as one of the
  1798. 100 most powerful women in Mexican business
  1799.  
  1800. Blue Demon Jr., is in a Burger King marketing campaign in Mexico
  1801.  
  1802. They did two TV tapings over the weekend. The first was 5/18 in Tuxtla
  1803. Gutierrez. It opened noting that Silver King had just passed away and that Dr.
  1804. Wagner Jr. wouldn’t be on the show. The entire roster came out and surrounded
  1805. the ring and they played a Silver King video. Psycho Clown then spoke about
  1806. Silver King. Puma King did an interview calling Killer Kross a coward and said
  1807. this has been the best year of his career, wrestling in the U.S., Japan and
  1808. Europe. Daga came out and said he’s been wrestling in the same places and he’s
  1809. only here in AAA to win gold. They went at it when Chessman & Villano III Jr.
  1810. helped Daga. Puma King was still holding his own until Kross laid out Puma.
  1811. Finally Vikingo and Laredo Kid came out, but they were also laid out. Pagano
  1812. made the save. In a match with woman wrestler Chik Tormenta teaming with
  1813. Australian Suicide against Mytzeziz Jr.& Nino Hamburguesa, Myzteziz went for a
  1814. 450 on Suicide but landed with his foot on Tormenta’s face. They immediately
  1815. held up the “X” sign and she was taken out of the ring. It was scary, but she
  1816. ended up being okay and was able to wrestle the next night. They are teasing
  1817. problems with Big Mami and Nino Hamburguesa, an undercard comedy pairing. Lady
  1818. Maravilla has been flirting with Nino and Mami is mad. Mami warned Nino she was
  1819. using him, but he didn’t listen and walked to the back holding hands with
  1820. Maravilla. Tessa Blanchard debuted, teaming with Hiedra vs. Faby Apache & Lady
  1821. Shani. She pinned Apache with a DDT with a fast count by El Hijo del Tirantes.
  1822. At one point Apache had Blanchard in a submission move and Tirantes physically
  1823. broke it up. Apache attacked Tirantes after the match since they’ve got a big
  1824. angle. Daga & Chessman & Villano III Jr. beat Flamita & Vikingo & Laredo Kid
  1825. when Daga pinned Vikingo after a pedigree into a codebreaker. Lots of dangerous
  1826. moves here. Laredo did a dive to Chessman and Chessman landed back first on a
  1827. chair. Villano was limping after an apparent knee injury while medics were
  1828. checking on Chessman’s back. Main event has Kross & Texano Jr. & Escorpion over
  1829. Puma King & Pagano & Psycho. La Hiedra was helping the Kross team. Texano pinned
  1830. Pagano when Chessman helped out and sprayed Mist in Pagano’s eyes. Puma cleaned
  1831. house with a chain when it was over
  1832.  
  1833. 5/19 in Villahermosa opened with a video of The Young Bucks talking about all
  1834. the championships they’ve won to build up their match with the Lucha Brothers.
  1835. The show was at an outdoor venue but it was 100 degrees out. A lot of people
  1836. arrived late. They noted Dr. Wagner Jr. not being there with his brother’s
  1837. death. They continued the Big Mami, Lady Maravilla and Nino Hamburguesa
  1838. storyline where Mami wanted to apologize to Hamburguesa but Maravilla and El
  1839. Halcon 78 Jr. attacked her. There was a trios match with Astrolux & Faby Apache
  1840. & Hamburguesa vs. Chik Tormenta & El Hijo del Tirantes & Blanchard when
  1841. Blanchard pinned Astrolux after a DDT. Hamburguesa at one point splashed off the
  1842. top on both Tormenta and Tirantes. Maravilla came out to distract him and Mami
  1843. again tried to warn Hamburguesa about Maravilla. But Hamburguesa left the ring
  1844. with Maravilla. A five-way for a shot at the Latin American title saw Australian
  1845. Suicide pin Villano III Jr. with a shooting star press. Others in the match were
  1846. Flamita, Golden Magic and Myzteziz Jr. Killer Kross then destroyed everyone in
  1847. the match until Puma King ran him off with a chair. Pagano pinned Chessman in a
  1848. bloodbath TLC match. Escorpion & Texano Jr. & Hiedra beat Vikingo & Laredo Kid &
  1849. Lady Shani when Shani was pinned after a triple team power bomb and Hiedra
  1850. unmasked her. In the main event, Blue Demon Jr. & Daga & Kross beat Puma King &
  1851. La Parka & Psycho Clown when Demon pinned Parka after a low blow with a fast
  1852. count by El Hijo del Tirantes. Kross power bombed Puma King into a table, which
  1853. didn’t break much. Psycho gave Daga the Psycho driver through the announcers
  1854. table.
  1855.  
  1856. DRAGON GATE: The group did a two-show tour of Hong Kong this week. They drew 279
  1857. and 306 fans for the two events so it was clearly not that big of a deal. They
  1858. worked with the local promotion that former WWE performer Ho Ho Lun is a part
  1859. of. They used Hong Kong wrestler mixed with their guys underneath and the top
  1860. matches were Dragon Gate
  1861.  
  1862. Point standings for the King of Gate tournament as of 5/23 are: A: Kazma
  1863. Sakamoto 6, Naruki Doi 2, Kzy 2, U-T 2, Punch Tominaga 0, Ryo Saito 0; B: Eita
  1864. 4, Susumu Yokosuka 4, Yosuke Santa Maria 2 and Yasushi Kanda 0; C: Takashi
  1865. Yoshida 4, Genki Horiguchi 4,Ben K 2, Kagetora 2, Kaito Ishida 0 and Yamato 0;
  1866. D: Shun Skywalker 4, Masaaki Mochizuki 4, Jason Lee 2, Kai 2, Big R Shimizu
  1867. 2,and Dragon Kid 0
  1868.  
  1869. The 5/9 show at Korakuen Hall opened the King of Gate tournament with the first
  1870. night all about the younger guys beating the established stars. (B) Eita beat
  1871. Masato Yoshino in just 4:07 with a crucifix. (D) Shun Skywalker beat mentor
  1872. Masaaki Mochizuki in 11:28. (A) Kzy pinned Naruki Doi with a schoolboy in 14:06
  1873. and © Ben K beat Yamato in 17:01
  1874.  
  1875. 5/11 in Osaka before 825 saw © Takashi Yoshida over Genki Horiguchi with a Cyber
  1876. bomb; (D) Mochizuki over Kai with a crucifix; (A) Doi over Kazma Sakamoto; and
  1877. (B) Eita over Susumu Yokosuka
  1878.  
  1879. 5/12 in Kobe saw (B) Yokosuka over Yuki Yoshioka; © Horiguchi pinned Yamato with
  1880. a backslide, (D) Skywalker over Big R Shimizu and (A) Kazma Sakamoto over Kzy
  1881.  
  1882. 5/15 in Hong Kong saw (B) Yokosuka over Yoshino in 14:30
  1883.  
  1884. 5/16 in Hong Kong saw (D) Lee over Mochizuki in 17:00
  1885.  
  1886. 5/18 back in Japan in Kariya before 468 fans saw (A) U-T over Tominaga in 8:39;
  1887. © Yoshida over Kagetora with the pineapple bomber in 9:12, (B) Yoshino over
  1888. Yoshioka in 9:56 with Sol Nasciente and (D) Shimizu over Dragon Kid in 12:50
  1889. with the shot put slam
  1890.  
  1891. 5/19 in Yokkaichi before 509 saw (B) Yoshioka over Santa Maria in 9:52; ©
  1892. Kagetora over Horiguchi in 7:54, (A) Sakamoto over Saito in 10:45 with a package
  1893. piledriver and (D) Kai over Lee in 11:01
  1894.  
  1895. 5/22 in Yokohama saw Santa Maria (B) beat Kanda in 9:52 with a Japanese rolling
  1896. crotch hold; © Horiguchi pinned Ishida in 7:08 with a backslide; (A) Sakamoto
  1897. pinned Tominaga in 7:13 with a half package piledriver and (D) Mochizuki beat
  1898. Shimizu in 11:24 with a German suplex.
  1899.  
  1900. ALL JAPAN: They were back in action on 5/20 at Korakuen Hall where a sellout
  1901. 1,566 fans saw Kento Miyahara retain the Triple Crown title over Shuji Ishikawa
  1902. (who beat him during the Champion Carnival) in 27:41 with the shutdown German
  1903. suplex. I was told this was an awesome show. Ishikawa was on fire in this one
  1904. and I was told this was the best of their bouts so far and was told this was
  1905. ****½, with one exceptional near fall. Nobody came out to challenge Miyahara
  1906. after the match. Atsushi Aoki won the jr. title from Koji Iwamoto in 14:26 with
  1907. the Nagata lock. Was told this was a **** match, a great technical match.
  1908. Iwamoto works reminiscent of early 90s Chris Benoit and the submission at the
  1909. end looked great. Big Japan’s Ryuichi Kawakami & Kazumi Kikuta retained the
  1910. All-Asia tag titles over Zeus & Atsushi Maruyama in 17:00 when Kawakami pinned
  1911. Maruyama after a hurricane driver. Told this was ****1/4. Maruyama usually does
  1912. a lot of comedy which hides how good he is but this match showed it. Very good
  1913. great heat. Nobe Bryant, the long-time Dallas area independent wrestler started
  1914. this week here. He was the most impressive guy at the San Jose tryout in March
  1915. that Jun Akiyama scouted. He worked in a six-man tag and was said to have shown
  1916. a lot of charisma and great athletic ability.
  1917.  
  1918. NEW JAPAN: The 7/6 Dallas show at last report had sold about 2,800 tickets. They
  1919. are hoping for a big late buy, and they did get that in San Francisco once the
  1920. card was announced, but late buys are going to be local and New Japan doesn’t
  1921. have that many fans in Dallas. Lance Archer has been heavily promoting the show
  1922. including going to indie cards in the area and selling tickets. Jushin Liger has
  1923. been added to the show. London on 8/30 is at 6,100 tickets sold at this point,
  1924. so it will sell out
  1925.  
  1926. New Japan World subscribers have hit 122,000 with good gains coming with the
  1927. start of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. An interesting note is that
  1928. the two most-watched matches thus far have been Rocky Romero’s matches with Will
  1929. Ospreay and Robbie Eagles. Some of that is because Australia and the U.K. are in
  1930. more favorable time slots than the U.S., but still, you’d think the Japanese
  1931. bouts would dominate since Japan has the most subscribers. This has helped
  1932. Eagles in the eyes of management. The new people who have signed up in the last
  1933. week are mostly from Europe, not the U.S., or Japan, so there’s a feeling
  1934. Ospreay being in a key position has helped a lot. Eagles was said to be the most
  1935. popular newcomer this year, with part of the reason believed that the fans are
  1936. comfortable with him because he’s half-Asian. His new Bullet Club T-shirt is the
  1937. best selling Bullet Club shirt in Japan since the Young Bucks were taken out of
  1938. the group. It was noted he’s also getting over with women and children, similar
  1939. to Juice Robinson, and women are a key demographic they are after
  1940.  
  1941. Dallas was chosen for the first night of G-1 because of Mark Cuban running the
  1942. arena. There has been talk for years regarding Cuban getting involved in a
  1943. larger role. He himself has done some pub for New Japan shows that are specials
  1944. on AXS
  1945.  
  1946. On the positive side, the last three nights of G-1 at Budokan Hall from 8/10 to
  1947. 8/12 haven’t had tickets put on sale yet, but the Fan Club has been able to get
  1948. tickets before being put on sale and the demand surpassed last year, which were
  1949. the most successful last three nights of G-1 since 1999 when they sold out Sumo
  1950. Hall three times in a row. Last year sold out the larger Budokan Hall for the
  1951. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi finals although that was sold out long before
  1952. anyone knew what was in the finals, just as this year’s finals are a sure thing
  1953. as far as selling out goes. What made last year so successful was the B block
  1954. finals with Kenny Omega vs. Ibushi also sold out ahead of time based on that
  1955. match. The A block finals with Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada drew a half house
  1956. of 6,180. As noted before, Dominion is almost sold out for 6/9 at Osaka Jo Hall
  1957. with three matches announced, which are Okada vs. Chris Jericho for the IWGP
  1958. title, Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IC title (which Ibushi having
  1959. beaten Naito at both the New Japan Cup and in MSG, and with Naito doing a
  1960. storyline of wanting to be the first person to hold the IC and IWGP titles at
  1961. the same time, one would think Naito is the favorite here) and Taichi vs.
  1962. Tomohiro Ishii for the Never title. When all seats are sold out they will add
  1963. some standing room tickets
  1964.  
  1965. The 6/5 Best of the Super Juniors finals at Sumo Hall is not close to sold out
  1966.  
  1967. The current tour isn’t knocking them dead. They are doing low 1,000s for the
  1968. junior tourney nights and not selling out
  1969.  
  1970. Omega was very quietly deleted this past week from the New Japan roster page. We
  1971. were told that the company hopes he will return in the future and they are still
  1972. wanting to work with him
  1973.  
  1974. You can cross Chris Brookes off the list as far as who the mystery opponent for
  1975. Juice Robinson that will be announced on 6/5 will be. DDT put out a video which
  1976. was a total spoof of the New Japan video with the mystery British wrestler, and
  1977. revealed in their video that Brookes is coming to DDT starting on 6/15. Because
  1978. of the hint of it being someone from the U.K., the speculation is that it’ll be
  1979. ROH’s Mark Haskins
  1980.  
  1981. Tanahashi was officially announced for the 6/29 and 6/30 shows in Sydney and
  1982. Melbourne
  1983.  
  1984. Tama Tonga won’t be in this year’s G-1 Climax tournament. He’s booked on Defy
  1985. shows on 7/26 and 7/27 in Seattle, which is in the middle of the tournament. He
  1986. asked to be off the tournament this year
  1987.  
  1988. Australia and New Zealand grapplers Liam Fury, Tome Filip & Stevie Filip will be
  1989. coming here to train at the dojo through a connection with Bad Luck Fale.
  1990.  
  1991. OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Fujita Junior Hayato, 32, underwent surgery on 5/13 to remove
  1992. a malignant tumor on his spine. In doing the surgery, they found another tumor
  1993.  
  1994. Katsuya Kitamura, the former three-time Japanese national amateur champion at
  1995. heavyweight who was all jacked and had all that fire who turned down a contract
  1996. offer from New Japan with the idea of working elsewhere, still hasn’t wrestled
  1997. anywhere. Kitamura smashed his leg and there was some concern if he could
  1998. wrestle again. New Japan offered him a deal for this year but wasn’t quick on
  1999. clearing him. But he had other medical issues having nothing to do with the leg
  2000. and hasn’t signed with anyone else
  2001.  
  2002. In a big surprise, Arisa Hoshiki stopped the record-setting Wonder of Stardom
  2003. title reign of Momo Watanabe on the 5/16 show at Korakuen Hall which drew 783
  2004. fans. Hoshiki won with a Brazilian kick in 12:57. Watanabe had just set the
  2005. record for most title defenses. World of Stardom champion Bea Priestley pinned
  2006. Hazuki with the Queen’s Landing (Japanese Ocean Cyclone suplex) in 8:58 to keep
  2007. the World of Stardom title. This was the bout originally to be Priestley vs.
  2008. Toni Storm, but WWE forced that match not to happen because it would be WWE
  2009. talent losing to AEW talent. Hana Kimura & Jungle Kyona & Konami won the Artist
  2010. of Stardom trios titles from Mayu Iwatani & Tam Nakano & Saki Kashima when
  2011. Konami tapped out Kashima with the triangle lancer in 16:49. Toni Storm, who was
  2012. originally scheduled to lose to Priestley, except WWE nixed that finish, went to
  2013. a 15:00 draw with Kagetsu. This was Storm’s last night on the tour
  2014.  
  2015. DDT ran on 5/19 at Korakuen Hall before 979 fans. In the semifinals of the King
  2016. of DDT tournament, Konosuke Takeshita beat Kazusada Higuchi with a lariat and
  2017. Soma Takao beat Harashima with a reverse Gori especial comb. Takeshita beat
  2018. Takao in 21:11 in the finals to make him the top contender for the KO-D open
  2019. weight championship. Tetsuya Endo, the champion, retained on the card beating
  2020. Keisuke Ishii in 18:14 with a shooting star press. Sanshiro Takagi also won the
  2021. right to challenge for the title at any time in winning a five-way over Yuki
  2022. Ueno, Mao, Kota Umeda and Naomi Yoshimura.
  2023.  
  2024. HERE AND THERE: The medical examiner’s office in London confirmed the early
  2025. reports that the death of Cesar Gonzalez, better known as Silver King, on 5/11
  2026. in the ring in London, was due to a heart attack. It was noted that his father,
  2027. the legendary Dr. Wagner, died the same way at the age of 68
  2028.  
  2029. One thing notable about his death is that, as noted last week, there has been a
  2030. movement throughout wrestling for referees to get CPR training, which is only a
  2031. good thing. Daniel Lopez, better known as El Satanico, who runs the commission
  2032. out of Zapopan, which is the Guadalajara region, has now mandated that shows
  2033. need two ambulances on site and one paramedic, who will be assigned by the
  2034. commission, will be on every show along with a doctor and that at least one
  2035. referee on every show will need to have had CPR training. Lopez said that he
  2036. wants all referees to have that training
  2037.  
  2038. Ulises Gonzalez, the son of Silver King, denied the story Juventud Guerrera said
  2039. about how his father had a medical issue they didn’t know about at the time.
  2040. Gonzalez held a press conference on 5/19 and said his father was healthy and 100
  2041. percent clean. Normally I’d say to dismiss what Juventud Guerrera says, but this
  2042. would be the exception to that rule. Gonzalez said that all the paperwork backs
  2043. that up. His brother, Dr. Wagner Jr., said that Silver King had no vice, that he
  2044. did no drugs. His son said that his believes his father would still be alive if
  2045. people had acted faster. The truth is, we’ll never know. He said his father
  2046. would have needed a pacemaker after the heart attack and would have had to have
  2047. retired from wrestling
  2048.  
  2049. Next week’s issue will probably be late because of me being out of town most of
  2050. the week for Starrcast in Las Vegas. Bryan Alvarez and I will be doing multiple
  2051. shows, both regular shows for the site and two live shows. There will be a live
  2052. wrestling show at Noon on 5/24 with Bryan Alvarez vs. Logan Stunt as the main
  2053. event. We have a ton of stuff planned for 5/24. At 5 p.m. Bryan and I will do a
  2054. Q&A show at Caesar’s Palace as part of Starrcast. There will be a dinner at
  2055. Texas de Brazil steak house for readers at 8:30 p.m. that night as well as a
  2056. party for readers as the Cosmopolitan at 10 p.m. and we may be taping stuff
  2057. there as well. Details on tickets for the wrestling show, the dinner and the
  2058. party are at https://poder.brownpapertickets.com/ Bryan and I will be doing a
  2059. readers exclusive Q&A session with a meet and greet/autograph signing/pictures
  2060. starting at 10 a.m. Saturday morning as the Tuscany Suites and the actual show
  2061. starting at about 11 a.m.. Details for attending that are at
  2062. https://f4wvegas2019.brownpapertickets.com/ There is also a readers party on
  2063. Saturday night after the AEW show. I would go with the idea that Bryan and I
  2064. won’t be there for that as we’ll be doing post-show work and recording a show,
  2065. but if it’s possible we’ll drop by
  2066.  
  2067. On Sunday, I’ll be part of a Brian Pillman panel at Starrcast at 10 a.m. Sunday
  2068. morning and at 4 p.m. Sunday I’ll be at the screening of the Kenny Omega
  2069. documentary that aired on TSN in Canada (there will be new scenes added in this
  2070. screening) and be part of a panel with Omega which both take place at Caesar’s
  2071. Palace. I will probably attend a Bret Hart panel at 10 a.m. Saturday morning at
  2072. Caesar’s although I’m not part of that, which will include Tom Magee. We’ll be
  2073. doing a lot of radio over the weekend
  2074.  
  2075. Starrcast events will be on Fite TV from 5/23 to 5/26. The complete package for
  2076. all events is $59.99, or there are single day plans where 5/23, 5/25 and 5/26
  2077. are $14.99 per day and 5/24 is $39.99 per day
  2078.  
  2079. Joey Janela’s Spring Break 4 is going to be the most ambitious WrestleMania week
  2080. opposition show in history. It’s one thing to book Madison Square Garden with
  2081. ROH & New Japan when fans think they’re getting The Young Bucks, Omega, Cody,
  2082. Tanahashi, Okada and Ibushi. It’s quite another to book a 5,000 seat concert
  2083. Hall, the Cuban Club in Ybor City, FL, on April 3, 2020, book it head-to-head
  2084. with a live Smackdown show in Tampa, and to outright promote that they are going
  2085. to sell it out as soon as they put tickets on sale. That’s likely without even
  2086. announcing a show. The Janela shows have been selling out and been one of the
  2087. hotter ticket items the last three years, but this is a big increase in size and
  2088. going head-up with WWE. Game Changer Wrestling, the promotion behind it, will
  2089. have three days of activities at the Cuban Club and in the area, including live
  2090. events, theater and stage shows, live music, parties and seminar. Game Changer
  2091. Wrestling has also announced shows on 8/22 and 8/23 in Tokyo, as well as 8/9 in
  2092. Los Angeles
  2093.  
  2094. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame announced its 2019 induction ceremony
  2095. weekend will be 7/25 to 7/27 in Waterloo, IA. The Tragos/Thesz pro wrestling
  2096. Hall of Fame inductees will be Beth Phoenix and Bruno Sammartino. They like to
  2097. induct people who have had amateur wrestling backgrounds that went on to pro
  2098. wrestling success, because Tragos was an Olympic champion and Thesz was a
  2099. high-caliber wrestler for his era and that was a key reason he was kept champion
  2100. for so long. Phoenix did amateur wrestling before getting into pro wrestling,
  2101. winning some tournaments and competing on the wrestling team in high school, and
  2102. had been honored with the Gotch Award in the past. Sammartino trained in amateur
  2103. wrestling while he was competing as a weightlifter and bodybuilder. They will
  2104. also honor Thunderbolt Patterson with the Lou Thesz Award, which is for work
  2105. outside of wrestling, Sgt. Slaughter with the Frank Gotch Award, which is for
  2106. someone who brought a higher level of respect for pro wrestling inside and
  2107. outside the ring, Brian Shields with the Jim Melby Award (for reporting on
  2108. wrestling) and Daniel Cormier with the Tragos Award (which goes to a
  2109. high-caliber amateur wrestler who excels in MMA). Cormier will not be attending
  2110. because of the proximity to his 8/17 UFC heavyweight title defense against Stipe
  2111. Miocic. The others will be attending with the exception, obviously, of
  2112. Sammartino. Shields has written a number of WWE books including “Second Nature:
  2113. The Legacy of Ric Flair and the Rise of Charlotte,” “30 Years of WretleMania,”
  2114. “The WWE Encyclopedia,” and “Main Event: WWE in the Raging 80s” and books with
  2115. John Cena, HHH and Hulk Hogan. The weekend includes a pro wrestling evaluation
  2116. and training camp headed by Gerald Brisco, an afternoon and evening live pro
  2117. wrestling show, a Wade Keller live podcast, an autograph session and other
  2118. activities. Announced as being there for the weekend are Sheamus, Natalya,
  2119. Brisco, Jim Ross, J.J . Dillon, Brian Blair, Victoria, Ultimo Dragon, Brian
  2120. Pillman Jr., Tony Garea and Lou Thesz’s widow, Charlie Thesz
  2121.  
  2122. A statue of Jack Veneno, the wrestling hero in the Dominican Republic, was
  2123. unveiled last month.
  2124.  
  2125. MLW: Adam Brooks vs. Austin Aries was added to the 6/1 show in Milwaukee.
  2126.  
  2127. ROH: They are trying to push the 8/9 Toronto show over SummerSlam weekend as a
  2128. major event, pushing it will have talent from ROH, New Japan, CMLL and the NWA
  2129.  
  2130. Shane Taylor defends the TV title against Bandido on the 6/28 PPV show from
  2131. Baltimore. This stems from Bandido pinning Taylor in the four-way on the 5/5
  2132. show in Toronto
  2133.  
  2134. The next shows are 6/1 in Kent, WA for a TV taping and 6/2 in Portland, OR. The
  2135. Kent show has announced Matt Taven vs. Tracy Williams for the ROH title, Jay
  2136. Lethal vs. Kenny King in the second bout of their best-of-three series, Colt
  2137. Cabana vs. Mark Briscoe for the NWA National title, PCO vs. Jay Briscoe, Mark
  2138. Haskins vs. Jeff Cobb and Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan vs. Brawler Milonas & Beer
  2139. City Bruiser
  2140.  
  2141. The Portland show has Taven vs. PCO vs. Flip Gordon vs. Haskins and if anyone
  2142. pins Taven in the match they will get a title match that night, plus a tag team
  2143. gauntlet match with the winner getting a title shot
  2144.  
  2145. The main event for 7/20 in Manhattan at the Hammerstein Ballroom is Taven vs.
  2146. Jay Lethal for the ROH title
  2147.  
  2148. The wrestler who used the name The Squid at the TV tapings was Brian Johnson.
  2149.  
  2150. IMPACT: Add Scarlett Bordeaux (Elizabeth Chihaia, 28) to Killer Kross as far as
  2151. asking for her release. Bordeaux has appeared in some of the Joey Ryan BTE
  2152. videos although not as a major character. Bordeaux and Killer Kross are a couple
  2153. so her asking for her release at the same time he did wasn’t a shock
  2154.  
  2155. Jordynne Grace (Patricia Parker, 23), who was in the Battle Royal at Double or
  2156. Nothing, which is really where she kind of got over, was also noted by PW
  2157. Insider that she is not under contract. She was offered a contract and has been
  2158. pushed but never actually signed the contract, making her a free agent. But she
  2159. was given an ultimatum to sign or not be used anytime further so she agreed to
  2160. sign and posted a photo with an Impact T-shirt saying the place would be here
  2161. home for the next several years. It was noted that there are places she likes
  2162. going such as Eve in London and Sendai Girls, and with Impact, she gets U.S.
  2163. exposure, as minimal as that may be, gets a push, builds her name and can work
  2164. where she wants. In WWE, they’d probably hire her but she’d be lost in the
  2165. shuffle and AEW would push her but she may not be able to work other places
  2166.  
  2167. Bordeaux has some incredible YouTube numbers for some of her stuff with AAA in
  2168. Mexico. She can legit be called the No. 1 YouTube draw active in pro wrestling
  2169. right now. What that means, I’m not sure but that’s also not a secret
  2170.  
  2171. The 5/17 television show was a mess for a number of reasons. The first and main
  2172. thing is that in the much-lauded Michael Elgin vs. Rich Swann, in the television
  2173. version on Pursuit, after Swann did three dives and a top rope move, they went
  2174. to a commercial break. This was 96 minutes into a two-hour show. The next 24
  2175. minutes were nothing but commercials and they never came back. It wasn’t a
  2176. problem with the tape, because they air the show at the same time on Twitch and
  2177. they showed the complete match. The worst part of all this is that so few people
  2178. watch Impact now (the last rating we heard for the show on Pursuit was around
  2179. 10,000 viewers) that there was almost no talk about the miscue anywhere. I had
  2180. zero e-mails or questions about it when I went to watch the show myself to see
  2181. that specific match and saw the problem. Aside from that it was mostly a good
  2182. show
  2183.  
  2184. Gursinder Singh, who had asked for his release, was granted it this past week.
  2185.  
  2186. AEW: I don’t know the details but the full-time contracts the talent signed does
  2187. include a drug testing provision and there are plans to implement a drug testing
  2188. program
  2189.  
  2190. Nick Jackson said the company’s philosophies on titles is there will be very
  2191. few, and they will all be booked to be meaningful. The idea is that every title
  2192. change should be a significant story
  2193.  
  2194. Cody announced that they would be doing a PPV from the U.K., which we had
  2195. already reported. He also strongly hinted ITV would be airing the weekly
  2196. television show. He didn’t say it, told people to call he station, and then
  2197. winked, and told everyone he was winking. As noted last week, there are
  2198. obviously talks in that direction but until TNT finalizes the day, at that point
  2199. then they can go to stations in the U.K. and Canada and try to finalize those
  2200. deals
  2201.  
  2202. On the 5/20 BTE show, they opened with a tear-jerker segment where they offered
  2203. Brandon Cutler a full-time contract to both wrestle and help produce the BTE
  2204. show. They showed him breaking down and calling his wife, which sounded like she
  2205. was as well. They showed Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus picking cards for the Casino
  2206. Battle Royale. They acted like Luchasaurus wasn’t entered in it but since he was
  2207. there Matt said he could take Michael Elgin’s spot. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus
  2208. did their characters where neither could talk, and then Luchasaurus started
  2209. talking perfect English and said he had a Master’s Degree and Jungle Boy talked
  2210. as well. Sammy Guevara was talking with Fuego del Sol and admitting he’s been a
  2211. dick in the past and Fuego thought maybe he was a nice guy. MJF wanted to kill
  2212. Dustin Rhodes in front of a gym with a sword from behind but Dustin turned
  2213. around, thought he was MJF, but he denied he was. Cody gave Page a speech about
  2214. how he was always full gear ready and then they showed him heading to England to
  2215. face Pac to build for the release of the match. They also had some clips of
  2216. going to the TNT upfronts but actually had very little about it
  2217.  
  2218. In an interesting move, the Double or Nothing show is treating media like they
  2219. are covering a sports event. They sent out a list of things that a real sport
  2220. would send out to media with details, credentials, areas to file stories,
  2221. backstage interviews for stories after the show and much more. WWE does do a
  2222. media room in the suites for WrestleMania and Takeovers do have a post-show
  2223. press conference with Paul Levesque, but not with the talent, but this likely
  2224. comes from the sports background of Tony Khan and with the guys involved
  2225. learning from their days working New Japan major shows.
  2226.  
  2227. UFC: Arnold Berdon, the husband of Rachael Ostovich, was sentenced to four years
  2228. probation but no jail time in his beating of his wife in November. Berdon had
  2229. pleaded no contest n 3/14 to second degree assault. Ostovich in court on 5/16
  2230. said she had forgiven him and did not ask for him to be put in jail. Prosecuting
  2231. attorney Robert Rawson was looking at five years in prison, noting that this
  2232. wasn’t one punch, but a ten minute brutal assault, where she begged him to stop
  2233. and had to escape going off the balcony and ran to her sister-in-law’s house.
  2234. She had claimed he had punched her repeatedly in the head, face and ribs, that
  2235. she suffered a cracked orbital bone and coughed up blood. Both had been drinking
  2236. prior to the incident. Ostovich had been granted a divorce on 5/15 and full
  2237. custody of her six-year-old daughter. Berdon was to be allowed supervised visits
  2238. and possibility of some custody after completing anger management and domestic
  2239. violence intervention courses
  2240.  
  2241. Tyron Woodley pulled out of his 6/29 main event in Minneapolis against Robbie
  2242. Lawler. Woodley cited a right hand injury, saying it was hurting and he had to
  2243. be able to use it to fight
  2244.  
  2245. They announced an 8/31 show in Shenzhen, China at the Univeriade Sports Centre.
  2246. They also announced the opening of the UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai
  2247. next month. Like so many other companies, UFC is spending big hoping to be able
  2248. to develop championship fighters from China which would lead to building a fan
  2249. base there. WWE has the same idea. The plan is to open a multi-million dollar
  2250. state-of-the-art facility and in particular is pushing Zhang Weili, a
  2251. strawweight who is now ranked as the No. 6 contender for Jessica Andrade as
  2252. perhaps their first Chinese superstars
  2253.  
  2254. . The planned Junior Dos Santos vs. Francis Ngannou fight that was scheduled for
  2255. the 7/6 PPV show in Las Vegas is being moved up a week to be the main event on
  2256. the 6/29 show in Minneapolis. It takes the spot of the planned Tyron Woodley vs.
  2257. Robby Lawler main event, since Woodley’s hand wasn’t in good enough shape to
  2258. fight
  2259.  
  2260. UFC’s Emmy-nominated short films called “UFC 25 years in Short,” which first
  2261. aired on Fight Pass, is being released on YouTube with a new short being
  2262. released each weekday from 5/20 to 6/21. There were stories, many of which were
  2263. produced by people who had produced ESPN 30 for 30 specials. The UFC 25 Years in
  2264. Short series was nominated for a Sports Emmy in the category of Outstanding
  2265. Edited Sports Special or Series. The first three episodes should be up at this
  2266. writing, which were the story of the origin of the UFC Octagon, The story of the
  2267. first MMA team the Lion’s Den headed by Ken Shamrock and The Story of the UFC
  2268. Championship belt. Pieces to be released are: The Story of the Political Crusade
  2269. to ban UFC from PPV (5/23), The Story of UFC getting run out of Niagara Falls,
  2270. NY for a 1997 show at the last time (5/24), The Story of Chuck Liddell, the
  2271. first major superstar (5/27), The Story of Matt Hughes and his battle for
  2272. survival (5/28), Donald Trump’s history with UFC (5/29), The Story of the
  2273. Fertitta Brothers and Dana White (5/30), Kevin Lynch’s Iconic UFC photos (5/31),
  2274. The UFC vs. Pride rivalry (6/3), The Story of Georges St-Pierre (6/4), The
  2275. Reunion of the first season of Ultimate Fighter cast (6/5), The Octagon Girls
  2276. (6/6), The Story of Forrest Griffin (6/7), The UFC’s connection with the Armed
  2277. Forces (6/10), The story of Daniel Cormier (6/11), The UFC Live Event experience
  2278. (6/12), The Fight for Legalization in New York (6/13), Junior Dos Santos
  2279. bringing a nine-year old boy from the Favela to the UFC (6/14), The Story of
  2280. Ronda Rousey and the rise of women fighters (6/17), Biggest Feuds in UFC history
  2281. (6/18), The Story of UFC’s drug testing (6/19), The sale of UFC to WME IMG
  2282. (6/20) and The Story of Conor McGregor (6/21). I’m part of the 6/18 released
  2283. documentary
  2284.  
  2285. ESPN E 60 is working on a special for this summer on Daniel Cormier
  2286.  
  2287. The Nevada Athletic Commission on 5/22 announced it was cutting 35 days off the
  2288. one-year suspensions of Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Zubaira Tukhugov, who were
  2289. both suspended related to the brawl after the Conor McGregor vs. Khabib
  2290. Nurmagomedov fight. Both argued that since Nurmagomedov was able to get a three
  2291. month suspension reduction for community service, they should get the same
  2292. opportunity. The commission agreed, and in exchange for ten hours of community
  2293. service work they will get 35 days taken off their suspension. Abubakar is with
  2294. PFL, and since their tournaments have started, he wouldn’t be able to compete
  2295. this year. Tukhugov fights for UFC. Nurmagomedov had previously said he wouldn’t
  2296. fight until both of his teammates were off suspension. UFC wants him to fight
  2297. Dustin Poirier for the title on 9/7 in Abu Dhabi. With the 35 days off, both
  2298. will be off suspension by that date. They would not have been off by that date
  2299. without the 35 day reduction. .. There’s no UFC show this week. They return on
  2300. 6/1 with a show from Stockholm. That will be a 10 a.m. Eastern show in ESPN 2
  2301. with the main card at 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN+ with Alexander Gustafsson vs.
  2302. Anthony Smith and Volkan Oezdemir vs. Ilir Latifi
  2303.  
  2304. With Markus Perez pulling out of the 6/22 show in Greenville, SC, Deron Winn,
  2305. who got his contract for beating Tom Lawlor on the Oscar de la Hoya show, will
  2306. now debut against Bruno Santos
  2307.  
  2308. Currently listed for the 7/20 show in San Antonio are Andrei Arlovski vs. Ben
  2309. Rothwell, Liz Carmouche vs. Roxanne Modafferi, Raquel Pennington vs. Irene
  2310. Aldana, Aleksei Oleinik vs. Walt Harris, Alex Caceres vs.. Steven Peterson,
  2311. Domingo Pilarte vs. Felipe Colares, Mario Bautista vs. Jin Soo Son and Sam Alvey
  2312. vs. Klidson Abreu. Arlovski vs. Rothwell is a rematch of a 2008 fight in
  2313. Bellator that Arlovski won via knockout
  2314.  
  2315. Alexis Davis vs. Viviane Araujo and Alexandre Pantoja vs. Deiveson Figueredo
  2316. have been added to the 7/27 PPV show from Edmonton
  2317.  
  2318. Greg Hardy is expected to return against Juan Adams on 7/20 in San Antonio,
  2319. although the contracts have not yet been signed
  2320.  
  2321. Corey Sandhagen vs. Raphael Assuncao in a battle of ranked bantamweights has
  2322. been added to the 8/17 show in Anaheim.
  2323.  
  2324. BELLATOR: MidiaResearch.com ran a story on DAZN’s financials, after the company
  2325. announced it had passed the four million worldwide subscriber number. Unlike WWE
  2326. Network or Fight Pass which are available all over the world, DAZN is more akin
  2327. to a series of television stations in getting rights fees onto its specific
  2328. stations. For example, it has the rights to Canelo Alvarez fights, but only in
  2329. specific markets, or has its major league baseball deal for specific markets.
  2330. DAZN runs in the U.S., Canada, Spain, Japan and Germany. For the Canelo Alvarez
  2331. fight which had 1.2 million viewers and 700,000 in the U.S., that would be an
  2332. indication that 58 percent of those four million subscribers are American, but
  2333. that wouldn’t be the case since an Alvarez fight would skew American. Total
  2334. revenue in 2018 was $277.6 million. Of that, $77.2 million was advertising
  2335. income leaving $200.4 million as subscriber income. Of that $277.6 million,
  2336. $14.3 million came from the U.S. and Canada, but DAZN was only in operation a
  2337. few months in those markets and a start upoperat3.DAZN launched last week in a
  2338. new market, Brazil, with a channel based heavily on soccer. They listed 42
  2339. percent of revenue coming from Asia and 44 percent of streaming sales from
  2340. Europe. Over the next five years, they have $6.1 billion alone in sports rights
  2341. commitments, and that doesn’t include any new acquisitions, just on the books
  2342. already. So that’s $1.2 billion per year. To cover those costs at $100 million
  2343. average subscription, they would need 12 million subscribers but really throwing
  2344. in advertising and all other costs, the reality is they’d probably need far
  2345. more, perhaps multiples of that. WWE actually profits $2 to $3 of its $9.99 and
  2346. while it pays production costs for its own programming out of that, it’s not
  2347. paying any rights fees to anyone, nor advertising at the level of DAZN
  2348.  
  2349. Reina Kubota, a kickboxer who is the biggest TV ratings draw of the Rizin
  2350. promotion in Japan, will be fighting on the 6/14 Madison Square Garden show
  2351. against Lindsey Vanzandt.
  2352.  
  2353. OTHER MMA: Sage Northcutt followed in the lead of Eddie Alvarez to become
  2354. highly-paid UFC signees who suffered devastating losses in their ONE FC debuts.
  2355. Northcutt debuted on 5/17 at Singapore Indoor Stadium against Brazilian
  2356. kickboxer Cosmo Alexandre. A notable thing is that the newcomers that come in
  2357. and fight one weight class above what they had fought in UFC at, because ONE
  2358. claims they don’t allow weight cutting, in this case Northcutt looked easily 20
  2359. pounds lighter than Alexandre, who didn’t appear to have followed the same
  2360. guidelines. It’s basically the reason everyone cuts weight, because if you
  2361. don’t, you go in so much smaller and that can be a big disadvantage. Alexander
  2362. knocked Northcutt out in 29 seconds with a punch that did so much damage
  2363. Northcutt had eight difference fractures in his head and needed nine hours of
  2364. surgery. The main event on the show, which drew a sellout of 12,000 fans (keep
  2365. in mind that ONE heavily papers its shows to give the idea to outsiders they are
  2366. a flourishing company even though they actually drive shockingly little revenue
  2367. and spend a ton) saw 20-year-old Christian Lee stop Shinya Aoki at :51 of the
  2368. second round to win the lightweight title. Lee is being billed as the youngest
  2369. MMA world champion in history. Aoki, 36, who just had won the title from Eduard
  2370. Folayang on 3/31 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo, was one of Japan’s biggest MMA stars of
  2371. the post-Sakuraba period, and at times the country’s biggest star. Aoki was
  2372. doubled as a pro wrestler for the former IGF, and most recently with DDT, where
  2373. he’s one of the company’s pushed stars and the current DDT Extreme champion
  2374.  
  2375. Yoshihiro Akiyama, 43, who was a major superstar on the Japanese MMA scene and
  2376. fought for years in UFC, who had super charisma and the best ring entrance in
  2377. the game, will debut for ONE on 6/20 on a show in Shanghai, China. Akiyama had
  2378. retired after losing to Alberto Mina in a 2015 UFC fight. Akiyama will face
  2379. Aguilan Thani of Malaysia. Josh Copeland, a former UFC, WSOF and PFL
  2380. heavyweight, accepted a plea agreement on 5/21 from a domestic violence assault
  2381. charge in February related to an fight with his wife. Copeland. 36, who went 0-2
  2382. with UFC in 2014 and 2015 and has an 18-6 overall record, plea bargained to
  2383. felony second-degree assault with serious bodily injury and misdemeanor third
  2384. degree assault. By pleading, he was not facing jail time and sentenced to two
  2385. years probation. If he stays out of trouble for two years, he charges will be
  2386. expunged from his record. He’s also required to undergo evaluation and treatment
  2387. for both domestic violence and substance abuse, and well as pay restitution to
  2388. his wife. The plea bargain allowed him to travel for work. According to the
  2389. arrest report, Copeland’s wife told police that she took her son upstairs and
  2390. then the two argued, pushed each other, and she claimed he punched her in the
  2391. face and threw her on the bed. According to her, the child aw the incident.
  2392. Copeland’s version of the story was that she attacked him by slapping him twice
  2393. first. He was taken into custody by police and released on $1,500 bond. The PFL
  2394. suspended him in February when learning about the charge and he has since been
  2395. released. Copeland went to the finals of last season’s PFL $1 million
  2396. heavyweight tournament, losing to Philipe Lins via fourth round knockout
  2397.  
  2398. Lins will be unable to go for a second tournament win this year as he’s been
  2399. ruled out for the tournament due to an injury
  2400.  
  2401. The PFL’s second season opened on 5/9 at NYCB Live (the Nassau Coliseum) with a
  2402. show built around Kayla Harrison. Harrison didn’t get the finish, but dominated
  2403. Larissa Pacheco in the man event on scores of 30-25, 30-27 and 30-27. Harrison
  2404. controlled the positioning in the first round and had a choke but couldn’t
  2405. finisher her. In the second round, Pacheco got Harrison’s back and was working
  2406. for a choke but Harrison reversed and stayed on top for the rest of the round.
  2407. Harrison got a takedown and ground and pound in the third. Sarah Kaufman, moving
  2408. up two weight classes, who looks to be Harrison’s toughest competition in the
  2409. battle for the $1 million tournament first prize, got an arm triangle submission
  2410. on Morgan Frier in 2:22. Lilian Garcia debuted here as the group’s full-time
  2411. ring announcer and everyone was raving about her work. The next show will be
  2412. 5/23, also from NYCB Live, which is the only major televised MMA show of this
  2413. week. They’ll have four fights on ESPN 2 at 7 p.m. and then the top of the card
  2414. will air live on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. Lance Palmer vs. Alex Gilpin, Nate Andrews vs.
  2415. Chris Wade and former UFC fighters Ronys Torres vs. Ramsey Nijem are among the
  2416. live card fights.
  2417.  
  2418. WWE: Styles, who turns 42 on 6/2, said in an interview with Newsweek that the
  2419. most recent WWE contract he signed would be his last pro wrestling contract. “I
  2420. can tell you that this contract that I’ve signed is my last. This is the perfect
  2421. place for me to be. It’s family-oriented. I have no problem taking my family to
  2422. the shows. It’ a PG product which I enjoy. I’m in the best place I can be for my
  2423. career.” As noted when his contract was expiring, even though he was friends
  2424. with the Young Bucks, to the level that they discussed their own WWE
  2425. negotiations with him, he didn’t express any real interest in AEW
  2426.  
  2427. The last thing WWE needed was another championship, but largely due to the USA
  2428. Network, one was created. Mick Foley on Raw on 5/20 announced the new 24/7
  2429. championship, a takeoff on the old Hardcore title that was a comedy belt that
  2430. was around from 1998 to 2002. The idea was copied by the DDT promotion in Japan
  2431. who took it an even farther step, with blow up dolls and inanimate objects at
  2432. times holding the championship. The idea is that the champion must be ready 24/7
  2433. and can be beaten at any time as long as there is a referee to make the count or
  2434. call for the submission. They will be filming people trying to win the title
  2435. away from the arenas, as they did with the old title. The belt was immediately
  2436. made a joke. The fans booed Foley’s announcement of the title. Then, he
  2437. announced the first champion would be determined by whoever could grab the belt
  2438. when it was put in the ring. Only guys who were rarely used on Raw, and never
  2439. pushed, attempted to win it, immediately making it a jobber belt. By the end of
  2440. the first night, it went from first champion O’Neil, to Roode to R-Truth. Foley
  2441. noted that everyone on Raw, Smackdown, 205 Live, NXT and NXT U.K. are eligible,
  2442. as well as legends from the past. The back story is that the USA Network has
  2443. been complaining for some time about the declining ratings, in particular the
  2444. third hour. They have continually pushed Vince McMahon to try and fix the third
  2445. hour, since historically, the 10-11 p.m. hour was always the highest rated on
  2446. Raw until recent years. And even in the early period of a three-hour Raws, it
  2447. was the highest rated. But years of three hour shows have burned out the
  2448. audience. In recent weeks, the ratings for Raw’s third hour got bad enough that
  2449. WWE recognized they had to do something. The big move was basically to allow the
  2450. top stars from Smackdown to appear on Raw, and to make sure Smackdown doesn’t
  2451. become a secondary show while it’s getting ready to move to FOX, to do the same.
  2452. USA Network of late was sending in all kinds of ideas to WWE to bring up the
  2453. third hour ratings. One person with knowledge of the story said the ideas were
  2454. all terrible, but the 24/7 idea was the best one and McMahon knew he had to take
  2455. one of them. While the idea is 24/7, Foley in announcing it said that it would
  2456. be there for the third hour of Raw, which made no sense if it can be defended at
  2457. any time. But that’s the reason he said it. I guess it’ll be mostly part of the
  2458. third hour even though the idea is can be defended at any time
  2459.  
  2460. Johnny Gargano has been for the most part out of action with a knee injury.
  2461. That’s why of late he’s been helping produce some of the Florida NXT house
  2462. shows. The injury is apparently okay now but not sure when he’ll be back in
  2463. action past the 6/1 Bridgeport, CT Takeover match with Adam Cole for the title
  2464. isn’t in jeopardy. The injury must have happened in March, since Gargano’s last
  2465. house show was 3/8. Since then he worked Takeover with Cole, which was one of
  2466. the best matches in company history, and then did two television matches, a 4/10
  2467. singles match with Roderick Strong and a 5/1 tag match with Bobby Fish & Kyle
  2468. O’Reilly vs. Gargano & Matt Riddle, where Riddle worked much of the match
  2469.  
  2470. The company got some good news with the on-sale for the Bridgeport Takeover
  2471. show. While not sold out, the advance for the 7,000 seat set up is strong and it
  2472. look like it will either sell out or come very close. This would be the first
  2473. Takeover in a major arena that wasn’t the day before a major WWE PPV show. It’s
  2474. selling ahead of the pace of the AEW show in Jacksonville and the New Japan show
  2475. in Dallas. While AEW Jacksonville isn’t a major PPV-level show, it is still the
  2476. biggest show that the company has tickets on sale for. AEW also doesn’t have the
  2477. whole card. New Japan hasn’t announced a card for Dallas, but it is G-1 so you
  2478. know you’re getting at least five major singles matches and every major star in
  2479. the heavyweight division
  2480.  
  2481. Ruby Riott had surgery on 5/21 to repair a bilateral tear of her right shoulder.
  2482. At some point soon she will have a similar surgery on her left shoulder. There
  2483. is not time frame listed for her return. She was wrestling on the European tour
  2484.  
  2485. Fish was injured on the 5/17 show in Philadelphia. The most recent word we got
  2486. on this was that it wasn’t serious but he was kept off the rest of the shows on
  2487. the tour. Fish & O’Reilly were facing Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch. Lorcan kicked
  2488. Fish in the head and he was knocked silly. Even though he looked woozy and the
  2489. ref seemed to act like he wanted to stop it, Fish did several more spots. He
  2490. looked woozy doing so and the ref threw up the “X.” Fish then went to the
  2491. corner. Instead of stopping the match, they had Fish tag O’Reilly and forced
  2492. Fish outside the ring and the trainers checked on him. O’Reilly then did a
  2493. suplex into an armbar on Lorcan and the match was over. O’Reilly hit the moves
  2494. as soon as he tagged in so it appeared to be getting the guys over they wanted
  2495. to but getting the match over ASAP. They quickly got Fish to the back. Fish was
  2496. at the show the next night in Belair, MD, but didn’t wrestle. He came out with
  2497. his arm in a sling and they said he was injured
  2498.  
  2499. The Monday night house show on 5/20 in Lowell, MA, at the Paul Tsongas Center
  2500. was canceled three days in advance. This was crazy. The advance wasn’t strong,
  2501. but they had just sent out at least two e-mail blasts that morning literally
  2502. hours before the announcement of the cancellation, which likely come off the TV
  2503. meeting the night before and the decision that they were pulling so many people
  2504. off the show for Raw that they decided to pull the show. That makes two Monday
  2505. cancellations at the last minute in three weeks, and with the idea of having the
  2506. top guys work both Monday and Tuesday as the band-aid to keep ratings from
  2507. falling, this could become a regular thing. It sucks for the audience because
  2508. the Monday Smackdown shows, which are expected to be the weakest selling of the
  2509. week, are usually held in smaller markets that don’t get live shows very often.
  2510. It’s also tough on the talent because they are on the road an extra day with
  2511. road expenses, but aren’t getting paid extra those days
  2512.  
  2513. Matt Riddle vs. Drew Gulak will headline Evolve’s 10th anniversary show that
  2514. takes place on 7/13 at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. Challenges were issued on
  2515. 5/17 during the NXT house show in Philadelphia
  2516.  
  2517. Nakamura is in a national TV ad in Japan for Nissin, the biggest noodle company
  2518. in the country. While it has led to speculation in Japan of Nakamura returning
  2519. to New Japan, this commercial had nothing to do with New Japan
  2520.  
  2521. Bray Wyatt (Windham Rotunda, 31), and girlfriend Joseanne “Jo Jo” Offerman, 25,
  2522. had their first child together on 5/18. It was a boy, named Knash Sixx Rotunda,
  2523. after Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman so I guess he grew up as an NOW fan. His
  2524. father would have been in the NWO as VK Wallstreet, a spoof of Vince McMahon and
  2525. Mike Rotunda’s old IRS character, when Wyatt was a young child
  2526.  
  2527. Even though Primo Colon has been working in Puerto Rico a lot as of late, he is
  2528. still under contract here. Both Colons have it in their deal that because of the
  2529. longstanding WWE relationship with Carlos Colon, that they are allowed to work
  2530. shows for WWC. It’s not like they are missing WWE main event bookings by going
  2531. there. Primo is one of those guys who was a good worker since he was a teenager
  2532. and he’s made a living here with his downside and all, and Puerto Rico is so
  2533. dead that it was the best thing for him in the big picture, but he’s also a guy
  2534. who nobody realizes how good he is who has never been able to show it
  2535.  
  2536. Scott Armstrong, 60, underwent lower back surgery for a herniated disc between
  2537. his L-4 and L-5 vertebrae. His back went helping his friend move a recliner
  2538.  
  2539. The plan right now is for the Cole vs. Gargano winner to defend against Riddle
  2540. on the Takeover show in Toronto
  2541.  
  2542. The lawsuit filed by cameraman Donald Anderson against WWE and Thaddeus Bullard
  2543. (Titus O’Neil) in U.S. District Court was settled out of court for an
  2544. undisclosed amount. Anderson claimed WWE put him in an unsafe work environment,
  2545. claiming he was injured by Bullard during a prank segment that aired on the
  2546. “Swerved” show on the WWE Network. Anderson was backstage filming at a taping
  2547. where he alleged Bullard was given an electrical shock by Saraya Jade-Bevis
  2548. (Paige) and was enraged, and alleged Bullard charged and kicked the camera out
  2549. of his hands and injured him. Bullard denied those allegations. Anderson claimed
  2550. after the incident that WWE told him to leave the premises because it wasn’t
  2551. safe and that Bullard couldn’t be controlled and would be an ongoing threat. He
  2552. claimed Bullard was known by WWE for having anger Management issues and that
  2553. Anderson’s hands, wrist and fingers were injured to where he couldn’t work for
  2554. six months
  2555.  
  2556. Bellator has been in talks with Jack Gallagher (Oliver Claffey) about fighting
  2557. on one of its U.K. shows
  2558.  
  2559. Ali said it was Bryan who got him moved to the main roster. Bryan made the
  2560. suggestion to bring in Ali for a program, which ended up being the spot that
  2561. Kingston got when Ali was hurt. Ali was scheduled to get a title match with
  2562. Bryan on the March PPV but it was Owens, not Ali, scheduled to face him at Mania
  2563.  
  2564. Roderick Strong will be on the Evolve shows on 6/29 in Queens, NY and 6/30 in
  2565. Brooklyn. WWN announced Stephen Wolf had signed a contract and would be on every
  2566. Evolve show going forward. Adrian Jaoude and Babatunde Aiyegbusi from NXT will
  2567. be on future Evolve shows
  2568.  
  2569. With the stock market down this past week, WWE stock closed on 5/22 at $77.46
  2570. per share, its lowest price in a long time. The company was threatening to fall
  2571. below the $6 billion mark, closing at $6.045 billion in market value. So it’s
  2572. actually down considerably from the day after the last quarterly report came out
  2573. even when analysts were targeting the stock at more than $100 per share. That
  2574. last report was the first loss of confidence report with how the company is
  2575. doing and that hasn’t really changed. .. We only got a listing for the top eight
  2576. most watched shows on the WWE Network last week, so don’t know how shows like
  2577. WWE U.K. or 205 Live did. Also, last week the listing ended up tabulated before
  2578. Monday, earlier than usual. The actual top two most-watched shows last week
  2579. ended up being the Bret Hart-Tom Magee match and documentary at No. 1, and the
  2580. HBO Andre the Giant documentary at No. 2, beating NXT that week. The Magee-Hart
  2581. documentary beating NXT and all the other shows and it beating the Andre doc
  2582. debut which the company heavily promoted really speaks volumes about the
  2583. interest in the legend of the Hart-Magee match. It pretty much shocks me, but
  2584. tells you that the number of viewers of WWE network programming individual shows
  2585. past the PPV shows probably isn’t that high (also notable because of the lack of
  2586. recognition to NXT wrestlers on main roster shows unless they are traveling fan
  2587. shows) and that the Internet legend of Hart vs. Magee was far bigger than most
  2588. believed
  2589.  
  2590. This week’s top eight were: 1. Money in the Bank; 2. WWE 24: Becky Lynch (airing
  2591. right after MITB); 3. WWE Chronicle: Ali; 4. Money in the Bank pre-show; 5. Bret
  2592. Hart-Tom Magee documentary; 6. Andre the Giant documentary; 7. WrestleMania
  2593. 2019; 8. NXT from 5/15. It is notable to me that the week after its release,
  2594. that both the Hart-Magee doc and the Andre doc beat out NXT and all the weekly
  2595. wrestling show
  2596.  
  2597. Notes from the 5/20 Raw show in Albany. Really, aside from the curiosity over
  2598. Lesnar being around for the entire three hours, and perhaps a one-time curiosity
  2599. over the new 24/7 title which they literally killed in seconds as being anything
  2600. but a joke belt, which worked as something different as a curiosity piece but
  2601. booked this way will run out of steam quickly. Other than that this was a normal
  2602. show. They drew 7,000 fans which is weak for Raw in the market. One person noted
  2603. this was another week where all the plans were changing as the show was going
  2604. on, with matches scrapped and such and said it was more chaotic than usual.
  2605. Another told us that it was the normal chaos and while a lot was changed at the
  2606. last minute, in this case, the changes were for the better. For Main Event,
  2607. Natalya beat Tamina with a sharpshooter. Basic match with a lot of near falls.
  2608. The crowd was very into Natalya. Alexander beat EC 3 with the lumbar check. It
  2609. was said to be okay. After Raw went off the air, Raw opened with Lesnar & Heyman
  2610. out. Heyman talked about theories, basically trying to get over the idea without
  2611. saying it that he’s been around the arena in Hartford since his childhood and
  2612. knew how to sneak in (“someone from the old days to sneak in”), the idea they
  2613. attacked Zayn and beat him up and hung him upside down, and then did a last
  2614. minute negotiation with Vince to get the final spot in the match. He said it and
  2615. then denied it and said you might as well blame Lesnar for killing JFK. He noted
  2616. Lesnar could beat Rollins or Kingston. Rollins came out and said he was just in
  2617. the fight of his life with Styles, but he won, but he’s not in a great mood
  2618. having to come out and see this. Rollins said that he’s trying to be the
  2619. champion Lesnar never had the guts to be. Rollins said he wanted to get this
  2620. over with and challenged Lesnar tonight. Heyman said that Rollins had to wait
  2621. seven hours at WrestleMania to wait for his girlfriend (Lynch) to main event the
  2622. show that you dreamed of main eventing. It should be noted that Rollins was
  2623. working with Lesnar on that. Heyman then said they could cash it in with
  2624. Kingston. This brought out Kingston. He also challenged Lesnar. Heyman said that
  2625. both the WWE and Universal champions are auditioning to have a match with
  2626. Lesnar, who he called the undisputed WWE and Universal champion of the box
  2627. office. He strongly teased a cash in would take place at the end of the show
  2628. since Rollins and Kingston have a main event match. They, of course, didn’t know
  2629. this. Basically this was an angle to see if the promise of a cash in would keep
  2630. viewers from going to sleep or tuning into the NBA game. Foley showed up and saw
  2631. Hawkins, Ryder and O’Neil. Zayn was with Lashley. Zayn asked Lashley for help
  2632. with his match with Strowman. Lashley, who had feuded with Zayn last year in
  2633. that terrible program, said he wasn’t going t help him. It should be noted that
  2634. last night Zayn was in the hospital, and today he was fine and booked in a
  2635. match. Rollins and Kingston saw HHH backstage and he confirmed they have a tag
  2636. match against Lashley & Corbin. Strowman pinned Zayn in :45 with a powerslam.
  2637. They claimed Zayn had a rib injury, but he wasn’t taped up, and he ran away and
  2638. didn’t run away like he was hurt. In very short spurts, Strowman running is
  2639. impressive because he can move for his size, but longer, he runs very labored
  2640. once it goes past a certain length. Since people see real athletes run
  2641. constantly in other sports, you don’t want to put wrestlers who run
  2642. unathletically past the distance it’s exposed and that happened here in
  2643. particular as he was chasing Zayn. While Strowman was backstage chasing Zayn, he
  2644. ran into Lashley. They looked like they told Lashley to pump up for the scene
  2645. because his arms looked even more ridiculous than usual standing there with
  2646. Strowman. Strowman told Lashley he’d deal with him later. Sullivan was in the
  2647. ring with Charly Caruso to do an interview. The gimmick is he doesn’t talk. She
  2648. asked him what his goals were. All I could think of was then killing the gimmick
  2649. by saying his goal is become a more tolerant person and learn from my mistakes.
  2650. But before he could do such a thing, the Lucha House Party came out. They
  2651. attacked him three-on-one and even knocked him out of the ring. Kalisto did a
  2652. pescado and Sullivan caught him and dropped him on the apron. Dorado and Metalik
  2653. hit a double tope on him but Sullivan destroyed them, and gave Dorado the freak
  2654. accident. He went to power bomb Dorado but the other two pulled Dorado to
  2655. safety. So first those guys, as babyfaces, were doing 2 on 3, now it’s 1 on 3
  2656. and getting their asses kicked. Next thing you know Janela will book them in a 0
  2657. on 3 handicap match with an invisible man and they’ll get their asses kicked as
  2658. well. Ricochet was selling being all banged up from the MITB match the night
  2659. before with an ice bag on his back. Cesaro came in and called him part of the
  2660. bubble wrap generation. This led to a match. Cesaro had a new entrance video
  2661. without Sheamus, and had new music. Sheamus is out after a concussion and right
  2662. now it appears they’ve broken them up and may be doing something with Cesaro.
  2663. Cesaro pinned Ricochet in 6:45 with a press slam into a backbreaker and the
  2664. neutralizer. I never thought they’d squander Ricochet to this degree and here we
  2665. are. He was selling his back, which was all taped up. The story they were
  2666. telling was that he was inexperienced, jumped at doing a match when he was hurt,
  2667. and then got beat. They’ve created a patterned match where his big move is the
  2668. same moonsault off the middle rope. He did a pescado, but Cesaro caught him and
  2669. threw him on the apron. He jumped on Cesaro’s shoulder and did a backflip spot
  2670. and then did a spin around head scissors that even with not being pushed got a
  2671. big reaction. He also did a Fosbury Flop dive which took place during a
  2672. commercial inset, which was just terrible timing on somebody’ part. The crowd
  2673. went nuts for that move and then they beat him. Styles did a promo, saying he’s
  2674. got to go back to square one and has a lot of hard work ahead of him. He said he
  2675. knows he can beat Rollins, just not last night. He lost, and there’s no shame in
  2676. that. Corbin showed up. He said that he pinned Rollins on Raw, something that
  2677. Styles didn’t do, and said that proved Styles never deserved the match and it
  2678. was a slap in the face to him that Styles got that title match ahead of him.
  2679. Styles said that wasn’t a slap in the face, this is, and slapped Corbin in the
  2680. face. Corbin said, “you’ll pay for that.” Reigns came out. Shane came out as
  2681. well and said that after beating Miz again, he’s done with Miz and said his
  2682. sights are set on Reigns, for punching his father. He said that his father was a
  2683. global treasure and Reigns cowardly struck him down. One thing is that Reigns
  2684. feuding with the McMahons doesn’t get booed anymore. Reigns said that he hated
  2685. spoiled rich kids. Reigns said that he was done with Elias. Reigns wanted a
  2686. match with Shane tonight. Out came McIntyre. Shane said they would do the match
  2687. at Super Showdown. Miz showed up and McIntyre was with Shane and they exchanged
  2688. words to lead to a match. Miz told Shane that you now have others fighting your
  2689. battles. The Revival beat The Usos on 10:41. They had a good match and the crowd
  2690. got into the near falls. Wilder did a really cool tornado DDT off the barricade.
  2691. Jimmy did a tope on Wilder but Dawson pinned Jimmy holding the trunks. It’s
  2692. amazing that when building the Usos for a tag title shot with Bryan & Rowan that
  2693. they lose here, but obviously they want them to do a program with The Revival
  2694. and after all the angles so far, The Revival needed a win. Bliss was backstage
  2695. with Cross, berating Cross for not winning the MITB match. While they were
  2696. talking, The Revival came out and celebrated, saying they beat the Usos, and
  2697. thus should be the next guests on A Moment With Bliss. Wilder kind of frothed at
  2698. the mouth on her and she was grossed out by them. Bliss & Cross were out with
  2699. Lynch on A Moment of Bliss. The Iiconics came out. They were making fun of Lynch
  2700. losing and only having one belt. Lynch said she’d beat both of them by herself
  2701. and get three belts. Evans came out and took credit for Lynch losing the
  2702. Smackdown title. Lynch talked about Lynch wearing her grandma’s clothes and that
  2703. she tapped out the night before. Lynch said she beat Evans when Evans only had
  2704. half her attention, imagine how easily she’d beat her when she had her full
  2705. attention. Lynch challenged all three to a match. They said she needed a
  2706. partner. Cross volunteered. They wanted her to get a third partner and she chose
  2707. Bliss. Bliss isn’t cleared so they did a deal where Bliss came to ringside, was
  2708. drinking coffee not even on the apron, but the idea was she was the third
  2709. person. She never touched anyone or was touched. Lynch & Cross & Bliss beat
  2710. Evans & Kay & Royce in 5:40. At one point when Royce was supposed to take a near
  2711. fall, her shoulders weren’t down so the ref held up the count. This was pretty
  2712. bad as a match. Lynch at one point was yelling at Kay to get into position for a
  2713. move. Lynch hit a missile dropkick on Kay and then pinned her after a leg drop
  2714. off the top rope. This is the weirdest booking. The Iiconics are tag champs on
  2715. two brands, appear on both, always lose, and never defend the titles against the
  2716. people who beat them. Foley came out to announce the new 24/7 title. He also
  2717. said, “Let’s make WWE Raw again,” to copy Trump’s catch phrase. Fans booed the
  2718. title announcement a lot. He first talked about how the title would be up in the
  2719. third hour, but also that every Raw, Smackdown, 205 Live, NXT and UK roster
  2720. member, as well as legends can win the title. They decided on a title match to
  2721. decide the first champion. It was under capture the flag rules. There was a belt
  2722. in the ring and whoever got the belt would become the champion. That’s how you
  2723. decide a title. It was different, but it’s one of those segments where you have
  2724. to turn your brain off. And then, the guys wh came out were Alexander (just to
  2725. remind us after all his great work in 205 Live, that he’s on Raw and they do
  2726. nothing with him), Gallows, Anderson, Rawley, EC 3, Eric Young (who I don’t
  2727. think anyone even remembered he’s with Raw), No Way Jose and O’Neil came out.
  2728. The belt is sitting there and somehow they were able to stretch this to 2:13.
  2729. There was a comedy spot where finally Anderson and Gallows both grabbed it, but
  2730. then EC 3 knocked them both down. Drake Maverick then showed up and tried to get
  2731. it, but O’Neil threw him over the top rope and grabbed it. As he was leaving,
  2732. Roode came from the back and gave O’Neil a schoolboy to become the second
  2733. champion. McIntyre beat Miz in 13:07. McMahon punched Miz to set up a
  2734. spinebuster, but Miz kicked out. Miz chased Shane who ran nit the stands.
  2735. Another time Shane attacked Miz from behind and threw him into the ring where
  2736. McIntyre hit the Claymore kick on him. After the match, Shane set up doing the
  2737. coast-to-coast dropkick on Miz, but Reigns jumped in and hit the Superman punch
  2738. on McIntyre. Shane went to attack Reigns from behind, but he turned around and
  2739. Shane ran away again. All the guys involved in the scramble were running
  2740. backstage looking for Roode, who had hidden. Roode bumped into Lashley and
  2741. Corbin, who could have cared less about him, to quickly establish that real
  2742. stars couldn’t even be bothered caring about that title. Kingston & Rollins did
  2743. an interview. Rollins said that nobody in all of space and time like Corbin. Joe
  2744. did a taped promo noting that his shoulders weren’t down but Mysterio got the
  2745. title. Joe told Mysterio to do the right thing and give him back the
  2746. championship since he didn’t win it fairly. He asked what kind of a message
  2747. would he be sending to Dominick if he kept the title he never earned. Joe said
  2748. that if Mysterio doesn’t just imagine the message I’ll be sending on you.
  2749. R-Truth had a car and for some reason was there. Roode wanted R-Truth to drive
  2750. him away from the arena with the Attack of the Job Guys movie being filmed. But
  2751. R-Truth opened the door, there was a referee, and then R-Truth rammed Roode into
  2752. the car, pinned him, grabbed the belt and they drove off. Rollins & Kingston
  2753. beat Lashley & Corbin in ano DQ match in 10:27. At one point Corbin & Lashley
  2754. were going to give Kingston a double superplex, but Rollins broke it up with
  2755. chair shots. There was a botched spot where Lashley was supposed to go over the
  2756. top rope, except he didn’t get over. Rollins did a tope on Corbin & Lashley.
  2757. Kingston came off the top falling backwards onto Corbin & Lashley. Kingston did
  2758. a falling backwards move off the top rope to the floor on Corbin & Lashley.
  2759. Kingston pinned Corbin with Trouble in Paradise. Since Corbin is being groomed
  2760. for Rollins, I would have thought they wouldn’t beat him on the way, unless
  2761. they’ve changed their mind about that. After the match, Lashley speared both
  2762. Kingston and Rollins. Lashley got the chair but Rollins superkicked the chair
  2763. into him. Lesnar came out. Lesnar teased cashing in, but then backed off and
  2764. left. Heyman said that next week they would announce who Lesnar would be cashing
  2765. it in against. After the show went off the air, Rollins said that Lesnar was a
  2766. bitch. McIntyre came out to attack Rollins & Kingston, but Kingston hit him with
  2767. Trouble in Paradise and then Rollins gave McIntyre the curb stomp to end the
  2768. show
  2769.  
  2770. Notes from the 5/21 Smackdown tapings in Providence. The show drew 5,500 fans.
  2771. It opened with Heavy Machinery over Benjamin & Mahal with Benjamin being pinned.
  2772. Smackdown opened with Shane backstage with Elias. Elias said that at MITB, the
  2773. crowd bothered him when they booed his singing and it caused him to lose focus
  2774. and he got Superman punched. Then he said he didn’t even know the bell had rang
  2775. for his match with Reigns and got pinned. He said he felt he let Shane down. He
  2776. wanted to be in Shane’s corner at Super Showdown against Reigns. Shane said that
  2777. he doesn’t need Elias’ help, but Elias needs his help, so he’ll be in Elias’
  2778. corner for a Reigns vs. Elias rematch tonight. Kingston & Woods came out. They
  2779. had promoted this show around Big E returning after arthroscopic surgery on his
  2780. left knee. They brought out a guy under a blanket, but it wasn’t Big E. They
  2781. kicked the fake Big E out. The real Big E came out. They started talking about
  2782. Big E on Twitter, and brought up that Big E had the hots for Lynch’s mother.
  2783. Owens & Zayn came out. Zayn complained that Big E was out six weeks and they are
  2784. doing a big celebration (they had the ring filled with fake presents although
  2785. they were never opened and nothing became of them) while he was out nine months
  2786. and got no celebration or presents. Owens ended up walking off. Zayn said that
  2787. Owens lost to Kingston at MITB because he was distracted during the mach because
  2788. his friend got beaten down and hung upside down. Zayn said the celebration was
  2789. disgusting. Backstage, Carmella was with R-Truth, who had this terrible looking
  2790. blond wig on to disguise himself. But he was still holding the 24/7 belt.
  2791. Carmella told him that everyone was looking for him but he said he was disguised
  2792. but asked Carmella for help in hiding. Ali pinned Andrade in 11:02. This was
  2793. really good. Ali did great reverse huracanrana and a flip dive. Ali sold his
  2794. lower back as being injured in the MITB match. Andrade did a crazy hip toss on
  2795. Ali ver the barricade into the timekeeper area. Ali kicked out of running double
  2796. knees and then won with a cradle. Carmella was dressing R-Truth up as Ru Paul.
  2797. Really, he didn’t look any different and still had the belt. Rose vs. Carmella
  2798. ended at 1:33 as a no contest. R-Truth with his wig and belt was at ringside
  2799. when a number of prelim guys, notably The B Team and Maverick, as well as a lot
  2800. of the 205 Live guys, all chased R-Truth into the ring. Then he ran away with
  2801. everyone, including a referee, chasing him. Drake Maverick, who isn’t even on
  2802. the brand, is this comedy figure in all this, like he’s this little guy who
  2803. always runs out of breath running after R-Truth and can’t keep up. Bayley did an
  2804. interview. She’s the champ now. She’s no longer a hugger and has evolved. The
  2805. fans didn’t know this since she came out with all the hugger little signs passed
  2806. out at ringside. Kingston pinned Zayn in 9:44 with Trouble in Paradise. During
  2807. the match they talked about how there was an attack on Big E by Owens, and that
  2808. Woods had gone to the hospital with Big E. They needed that since the angle they
  2809. were doing after the match would have made no sense if Big E or Woods were
  2810. there. Too much of the match was during the commercial break so we never really
  2811. got the flow of it. After the match, Heyman came out with the briefcase. This
  2812. distracted Kingston and allowed Ziggler to attack Kingston from behind. Ziggler
  2813. was scratching Kingston’s eyeballs and put a chair over Kingston’s head and
  2814. stomped n the chair. He Pillmanized Kingston’s neck. They brought in EMT’s and
  2815. put Kingston on a stretcher. But just before he got to the back, Kingston got
  2816. off the stretcher with the idea he wasn’t going to give Ziggler the satisfaction
  2817. and was helped to the back. Reigns was doing a promo in the parking lot. Elias
  2818. was standing on the top of one of the WWE production trucks and yelling at him.
  2819. Lynch and Bayley did a promo. Lynch said that once she and Bayley were doing
  2820. with Flair and Evans, that she was coming after Bayley and the title. Bayley &
  2821. Lynch beat Flair & Evans in 6:09. The match was all action fast-paced good
  2822. stuff. The finish saw Evans give Bayley the woman’s right and Charlotte went for
  2823. the figure four, but Bayley used the inside cradle off the figure four to get
  2824. the three count. Reading logical booking into this may be huge mistake No. 1,
  2825. but usually if you do the two champs against top challengers, the challengers
  2826. would win to set up a title match. Not doing that here and Bayley scoring the
  2827. pin makes sense they’d do Lynch vs. Bayley, which may be at Stomping Grounds on
  2828. 6/23 in Tacoma. After all this time, of R-Truth and Carmella trying to run out
  2829. of the building about a half hour ago, well, they somehow were still in the
  2830. building and still running. So those two must have cardio for days and
  2831. absolutely the worst sense of direction if after 30 minutes while the show is
  2832. going on they can’t find the exit door. I think all the other job guys chasing
  2833. them got bored, or probably tuned in the hockey game or something. The B Team
  2834. was still chasing and attacked R-Truth. Dallas went to pin him but Axel pulled
  2835. Dallas off because he wanted to pin him. R-Truth threw Axel and Dallas together
  2836. and ran off. This was funny in that totally preposterous kind of way. Ziggler
  2837. cut a promo. He basically talked about what a fluke the whole R-Truth thing was.
  2838. He said that Ali got hurt and R-Truth was put in his spot and Kingston then
  2839. knocked it out of the park but “it should have been me.” He then recounted
  2840. Kingston being in the Chamber, getting into the Mania match and winning the
  2841. title while always saying, “It should have been me.” He said that’s why he did
  2842. what he did, because he had no other choice, and he’s going to win the title.
  2843. Reigns pinned Elias in 9:28. Elias nearly got a pin with a power bomb. Reigns
  2844. hit the Superman punch but Shane put Elias’ foot on he ropes. Reigns hit the
  2845. drive by on Shane. Elias threw Reigns into the post. Elias undid the turnbuckle.
  2846. The ref tried to fix the turnbuckle and Shane threw a guitar into the ring.
  2847. Elias went to use it but Reigns speared him for the pin. Shane then grabbed the
  2848. guitar and went to use it but Reigns nailed Shane with a Superman punch.
  2849. McIntyre then hit the ring and laid out Reigns with a Claymore kick and the show
  2850. went off the air. So it looks like, if they do the handicap match program, it’ll
  2851. be McIntyre & Shane vs. Reigns rather than the original Shane & Elias. But we’re
  2852. obviously headed back to Reigns vs. McIntyre sooner than later. 205 Live opened
  2853. with the Singh Brothers in the ring. Originally the Singhs vs. Lucha House Party
  2854. was scheduled, but you know how that goes. Someone actually broke down for us
  2855. that 41 percent of what is scheduled actually happens and the rest is changed,
  2856. based on thing the company itself advertises. That’s a little skewed because
  2857. some of what changes, like often with PPV matches and some TV stuff is they
  2858. advertise something they don’t intend on doing and it either plays into an angle
  2859. (like Strowman in the MITB match) or is just to sell tickets but late pulling
  2860. out but never planned (like Lesnar vs. Strowman at the Rumble being in a
  2861. stadium). It was said that Sullivan destroyed all three members of the Lucha
  2862. House Party, so they weren’t there. The Singhs demanded that they be awarded the
  2863. win via forfeit. Maverick came out and said they would have new opponents. Jack
  2864. Gallagher & Humberto Carrillo beat the Singhs when Carrillo pinned Sunil with
  2865. the Aztec press. Main event was a five-way with Akira Tozawa winning over Brian
  2866. Kendrick, Ariya Daivari, Mike Kanellis and Oney Lorcan. All kinds of trading of
  2867. big moves. They showed Nese watching with the idea the winner would probably be
  2868. in line for a title shot. Daivari was bleeding from the left ear. They kept
  2869. trading finishing moves until Daivari hit the rainmaker on Lorcan, but Tozawa
  2870. cradled Daivari. The show ended with Nese looking on like he was happy to defend
  2871. against Tozawa next. The dark match main saw Sane & Asuka beat Royce & Kay via
  2872. DQ. This was a mess of a finish. It was 10:58 p.m. and they had a hard union
  2873. deadline to end the show at 11 p.m. Kay was being pinned, Royce saved her and
  2874. they called for the bell and made it a DQ. Nobody in the crowd understood why
  2875. that would be a DQ. Very flat show ending. Something else off TV is Buddy Murphy
  2876. came out to cut a promo but it was during a commercial break. Almost nobody in
  2877. the crowd seemed to have any idea who he was
  2878.  
  2879. Notes from the 5/15 NXT TV show. This was the show built around the farewell of
  2880. the Viking Raiders. This was one where NXT had their hands tied because of the
  2881. call-up happening when it did and I guess Vince and WWE didn’t want them losing
  2882. a match and dropping the title, so they could do the multiple-team match on 6/1
  2883. in Bridgeport. The show opened with the Viking Raiders, having to use their
  2884. names Ivar & Erik instead of Rowe & Hanson, coming out to relinquish the tag
  2885. team titles. The Street Profits came out. They noted that they lost the last
  2886. time they challenged for the titles but that all the fans know the Street
  2887. Profits can beat the Viking Raiders. The Raiders told “Mr. Regal” to make the
  2888. match. There was an interview outside the building with Bobby Fish, Kyle
  2889. O’Reilly and Adam Cole. Cole said he was always the leader of the Undisputed
  2890. Era. They teased the idea that they were about to give Roderick Strong the boot.
  2891. Strong then showed up and just said that they were stronger asa unit when we’re
  2892. on the same page. He then showed a flip flop with blood on it. So the idea was
  2893. that he had just taken out Matt Riddle, one of Cole’s big rivals. Fish &
  2894. O’Reilly were really excited about it. Keith Lee pinned Cezar Bononi in 2:28
  2895. with a pounce and a power bomb. When I first saw Bononi, with his size, agility
  2896. and wrestling ability and he’s a good bump taker, I thought he’d be something.
  2897. And he didn’t have time here, but he really didn’t show much past that he’s
  2898. really tall and has a good physique. Cathy Kelly was with Io Shirai. The
  2899. Forgotten Sons (Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler & Jaxson Ryker) showed up and wanted
  2900. to talk with Regal. They were mad that The Street Profits were getting the tag
  2901. title shot and not them. Kushida beat Kona Reeves with the hoverboard lock in
  2902. 5:04. Drew Gulak was watching the match as they are preparing for a program with
  2903. those two given they were doing submission rules matches every night on this
  2904. past weekend’s tour. People reacted to Kushida as a star. He’s one of the best
  2905. in the world as far as technical wrestling goes. He pointed at Gulak after the
  2906. match. Bianca Belair and Mia Yim were backstage setting up a match. Belair won
  2907. the first meeting and Yim wanted a rematch. Riddle was backstage and his ribs
  2908. were all taped up like he had been jumped. He was wearing one flip flop, playing
  2909. into the idea that Strong had taken the other one. Johnny Gargano was in the
  2910. trainer’s room with im. Gargano said that he knows they’re coming after him and
  2911. the NXT title and said he knew it would be him and Cole one more time. Vanessa
  2912. Borne beat Jessie in 2:49 with a neckbreaker. So Jessie has no last name on
  2913. television. Aliyah was in Borne’s corner as they’re making them a tag team.
  2914. Borne is a former dancer and cheerleader with a great look. Jessie is a tall
  2915. former college volleyball player who has the fit athlete look. Borne does have
  2916. charisma but both are still learning as wrestlers. The Raiders vs. Street
  2917. Profits tag title main event only went 2:13 before The Forgotten Sons
  2918. interfered. Ford did a great frog splash, super high, that Ivar kicked out of.
  2919. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch also got involved. Ivar did a cannonball on all three
  2920. of the Forgotten Sons. Ford used a blockbuster off the top on Erik and covered
  2921. him and Dawkins counted to three so they at least got the visionary fall deal,
  2922. which is all they were allowed to get. The Raiders took out Burch & Lorcan. They
  2923. did a double press on Lorcan and threw him over the top onto the Street Profit,
  2924. which took out Blake as well. The whole thing is to set up Fish & O’Reilly, The
  2925. Street Profits, Burch & Lorcan and The Forgotten Sons in a four-way for the
  2926. vacant tag titles on 6/1
  2927.  
  2928. The out-of-state NXT tour opened 5/16 in Bethlehem, PA before 550 fans. The
  2929. Street Profits beat The Outliers, who are Riddick Moss & Dan Matha, managed by
  2930. Robert Strauss. Kushida beat Drew Gulak in a submission match. The crowd loved
  2931. Kushida. Match was said to be very good technically but it was a style a lot of
  2932. the crowd didn’t react to. Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly beat Oney Lorcan & Danny
  2933. Burch. Great match. Candice LeRae & Io Shirai b Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir.
  2934. Shirai pinned Duke after a moonsault. Shirai made motions about winning the
  2935. title. Matt Riddle beat Roderick Strong. Riddick lived in the area at one time
  2936. so the crowd treated him like a local star. The crowd was going nuts for him the
  2937. entire match with “Welcome home” chants. Riddle won with the bromission and got
  2938. a standing ovation after the match. Punishment Martinez pinned Keith Lee with a
  2939. choke slam. The crowd treated Lee like a star but Martinez pinned him. The two
  2940. hugged when it was over. Shayna Baszler retained the title over Kacy Catanzaro.
  2941. Catanzaro got over strong. Baszler won with a choke. Fish came out and pointed
  2942. out his uncle Bill, who is 90 in the stands and noted he was a Korean War vet.
  2943. Fans were chanting Uncle Bill at him and USA. Velveteen Dream beat Adam Cole to
  2944. keep the North American title in the main event. The fans loved both guys. Dream
  2945. just worked the crowd for about five minutes. Crowd was hot and this was the
  2946. best match on the show. It ended with Dream winning with an elbow drop off the
  2947. top rope. Cole got a significantly bigger reaction than Dream
  2948.  
  2949. The 5/17 show was in Philadelphia at the Fillmore before 1,500 fans. It was all
  2950. the same results as Bethlehem but the matches were in a different order. Fans
  2951. didn’t know the Outliers but Matha got heat. Baic match. Martinez vs. Lee in a
  2952. face match saw a split crowd. Lee missed a moonsault at 320 pounds and Martinez
  2953. used the Crossroads for the pin. Fish & O’Reilly over Lorcan & Burch had the
  2954. injury to Fish. Kushida beat Gulak in a submission match that was described as
  2955. incredibly good. The crowd loved Gulak, since he’s from Philadelphia. Still,
  2956. Kushida got about 40m percent support. The crowd was into everything. Gulak then
  2957. cut a promo after losing saying he was glad to bring his style of wrestling to
  2958. Philadelphia, and said how he trained at the 2300 Arena and came up in Evolve.
  2959. He then announced that Evolve’s 10th anniversary show would be on 7/13 in
  2960. Philadelphia and he issued an open challenge to anyone. On the screen, Riddle
  2961. accepted the challenge. Catanzaro got in a lot of offense on Baszler before
  2962. losing. The one difference on the show from the prior night is that Strong
  2963. didn’t wrestle. He was there, but was only in the corner of Fish & O’Reilly. So
  2964. Riddle was added to the main event, making it a three-way with Dream and Cole.
  2965. All three got a big reaction but Dream’s was the biggest of the three and bigger
  2966. than anyone else on the show. Super match. At one point each superkicked the
  2967. other for an all fall down “this is awesome” chant spot. Cole did a flip
  2968. piledriver with Riddle on the second rope in an apparently crazy move. Cole went
  2969. for the pin but Dream came off the second rope with a purple rainmaker on Cole
  2970. and pinned him
  2971.  
  2972. 5/18 in Belair MD, drew 750 fans. They had a television set-up and it looked
  2973. like they were taping three matches, which were Kushida vs. Gulak, Lorcan &
  2974. Burch vs. O’Reilly & Strong and Shirai & LeRae vs. Duke & Shafir. It was mostly
  2975. the same matches. The crowd was into everything. Martinez vs. Lee was very good.
  2976. Ths finish was different as both knocked the other out at the same time with
  2977. punches, and both fell down with Martinez on top in 15:00. The crowd gave both
  2978. men a standing ovation when it was over. Baszler vs. Catanzaro was also really
  2979. good. Baszler really made Catanzaro look good on her comeback after Baszler
  2980. dominated most of the way. Kushida vs. Gulak was really good again. Lorcan &
  2981. Burch beat O’reilly & Strong. Fish came out with his arm in a cast. He shook
  2982. hands and walked to the back. Jaxson Ryker distracted Strong and Lorcan then
  2983. pinned O’Reilly. This was taped to get a Forgotten Sons vs. Undisputed Era thing
  2984. going. Shirai & LeRae vs. Duke & Shafir was a no contest. This time Baszler came
  2985. out and pulled Duke out of the way when Shirai went for the moonsault. It turned
  2986. into a big brawl with Baszler and Shirai. Crowd hated the non-finish but was
  2987. really into the brawl. Main event had the same finish as the night before
  2988.  
  2989. The final show of the tour was 5/19 in Asbury Park, NJ, drawing 1,100 fans even
  2990. though it went head-to-head with the PPV. It was pretty much the same show as
  2991. the night before. Catanzaro is from New Jersey so she got a big reaction. It’s
  2992. interesting because in the past when they go on the road they mix up the matches
  2993. to keep talent garnering new experience and learning rather than running the
  2994. same match in most cases every night
  2995.  
  2996. The Florida swing opened on 5/15 in Tampa before 250 fans. Eric Bugenhagen beat
  2997. Nick Comoroto. Comoroto is a heel who seems to act like Ultimate Warrior. MJ
  2998. Jenkins came out and sang her entrance music and danced to the ring. The crowd
  2999. got behind her until she heeled on them saying that they smelled. Jessie Elaban
  3000. pinned Jenkins. There were issues with the new ref being out of position and
  3001. some botched stuff. Brennan Williams & Brandon Vink beat Matt Lee & Jeff Parker.
  3002. Vink & Williams tried to play the gay heel act putting Lee & Parker as faces./
  3003. this didn’t work. Mansoor beat Cezar Bononi with a roll-up. Stokely Hathaway,
  3004. who had been called Court Moore, came out but now his name is Malcom Bivens. He
  3005. talked about how great Jermaine Haley was. This led to Killian Dain returning
  3006. and pinning Haley. Dain has lost weight. Kassius Ohno after the match attacked
  3007. Dain and cut a promo on him, saying he wanted him the next night in St.
  3008. Petersburg.
  3009.  
  3010. Ohno laid him out with an elbow. Garza Jr., debuted and was called Roberto Garza
  3011. Jr. He beat Boa. Garza worked as the heel but the crowd cheered him anyway. He
  3012. won with a quebrada. Mia Yim beat Reina Gonzalez via guillotine submission. The
  3013. main event saw Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner beating Albert Hardie Jr. &
  3014. Humberto Carrillo. Barthel came off the ropes with an uppercut while Aichner had
  3015. picked Carrillo of the mat for the pin
  3016.  
  3017. 5/17 in St. Petersburg drew 200 fans. Hardie Jr. beat Cezar Bononi. Adrian
  3018. Jaoude pinned Cal Bloom. Rinku Singh beat Mansoor. Vanessa Borne & Aliyah beat
  3019. Xia Li & Karen Q. Humberto Carrillo pinned Trevor Lee. Brennan Williams &
  3020. Brendan Vink beat Eric Bugenhagen & Denzel Dejournette. Mia Yim pinned Bianca
  3021. Belair. Isn’t she un-de-feat-ed? Killian Dain pinned Ohno in the main event
  3022. stemming from the angle the night before
  3023.  
  3024. 5/18 in Sanford, FL, drew 350 fans. Bugenhagen pinned Comoroto with a pump
  3025. handle slam. Gonzalez & Jenkins beat Li & Q when Gonzalez used a Stan Hansen
  3026. lariat for the win. Carrillo pinned Samuel Shaw after a double springboard
  3027. senton. Jaoude beat Daniel Vidot with a leglock submission. Hardie Jr. beat
  3028. Bononi with a delayed German suplex. Shane Thorne beat Jermaine Haley via
  3029. submission. Belair beat Jessie Elaban with a torture rack slam. Main event saw
  3030. Matt Lee & Jeff Parker & Babatunde Aiyegbusi beat the heel trio of Marcel
  3031. Barthel & Fabian Aichner & Trevor Lee
  3032.  
  3033. 5/17 in Cardiff ended the tour and drew a sellout 3,500
  3034.  
  3035. We didn’t get a crowd for the 5/16 Smackdown show in Hamburg. The 5/17 Smackdown
  3036. show in Berlin drew 11,000 fans, which was the biggest Smackdown crowd of the
  3037. tour
  3038.  
  3039. Sheffield opened with the same Lynch over Tamina and Evans three-way with Evans
  3040. over Tamina with the disarm her. Roode pinned Gable using the tights. The Lucha
  3041. House Party beat Mahal & The Singhs when Kalisto pinned one of the Singhs with
  3042. the Salida del Sol. Riott & Morgan came out while the Singhs were still in the
  3043. ring. All four started dancing together but then Riott and Morgan turned on them
  3044. and threw him out of the ring. This led to Bayley & Moon beat Riott & Morgan
  3045. when Bayley pinned Morgan with the Randy Savage elbow. This will be interesting
  3046. since Bayley is on Smackdown and that’s Sane’s finisher. In fact, because Bayley
  3047. did the top rope elbow, that was the reason Sane was at first told to get a new
  3048. finisher, until people saw Sane’s finisher and realized it was so spectacular it
  3049. would get her over. Elias came out. He and Balor sang “Wonderwall” together and
  3050. Elias attacked him. This led to a short IC title match with Balor winning with
  3051. the coup de grace. Walter pinned Dunne to keep the U.K. title after a splash.
  3052. Said to be decent. Hawkins & Ryder beat The Revival in the tag title match wen
  3053. Hawkins pinned Dawson with a cradle. Reigns & Rollins & Strowman beat Lashley &
  3054. Corbin & McIntyre when Strowman pinned Corbin with a powerslam. Reigns was the
  3055. most over guy in the main event
  3056.  
  3057. Cardiff was mostly the same show. The only change is there was no Bayley & Moon
  3058. vs. Riott & Morgan match. Not sure what happened but no Bayley, Moon or Morgan.
  3059. Riott was moved into the title match which ended up as Lynch over Riott, Tamina
  3060. and Evans. Lynch beat Riott with the disarm her. Lynch was super popular. The
  3061. fans liked Riott as well since she was signing for everyone before the show. The
  3062. Lucha House Party also got a big reaction. Roode vs. Gable had no heat. Fans had
  3063. no idea why they were wrestling each other since they never had a tag team
  3064. breakup. Roode was cheered by the few who cared. Gable got very little reaction
  3065. except from the ringside fans and got a polite applause after. Gable has also
  3066. cut his hair. Hawkins & Ryder vs. Revival also didn’t get much reaction. They
  3067. did mic work noting it was Wilder 32nd birthday and then turned on the crowd.
  3068. Walter vs. Dunne was said to be the best match. Most of the crowd didn’t know
  3069. either guy but got into it as the match progressed. Lots of fans had no clue who
  3070. either guy was. Reigns ended up getting the biggest face reactions on the show
  3071. in the six-man tag and the crowd loved the match. Rollins did dives. People
  3072. hated Corbin. They went nuts every time Rollins or Reigns tagged in. Reigns
  3073. pinned Lashley after a spear
  3074.  
  3075. Hamburg opened with Matt Hardy & Crews over Rusev & Nakamura. After the match,
  3076. Sullivan laid out both Hardy & Crews. Woods pinned Cesaro in 15 seconds. The
  3077. Iiconics retained the tag titles in a three-way over Rose & Deville and Asuka &
  3078. Sane. Styles pinned Orton after the phenomenal forearm. Rowan pinned Ali. The
  3079. Miz did a Miz TV episode which saw Joe and then Andrade come out. It turned into
  3080. a three-way for the U.S. title where Joe won over Miz and Andrade. Kingston
  3081. pinned Owens with Trouble in Paradise. Cesaro tried to interfere like on the
  3082. other shows, but this time Woods threw Cesaro into the post so he couldn’t
  3083. interfere and Kingston won clean
  3084.  
  3085. Berlin had a few changes because Rose, Deville Owens and Joe were off the show.
  3086. Matt Hardy pinned Rusev in 11:00 with a twist of fate. Lars Sullivan destroyed
  3087. Hardy after the match. Crews pinned Cesaro in 15:00 with a frog splash. The
  3088. Iiconics beat Asuka & Sane in 12:00 when Royce pinned Sane with a roll-up to
  3089. keep the tag titles. Styles pinned Nakamura in 16:00 with the Styles clash. This
  3090. match was much harder hitting than you usually see at a house show. Rowan pinned
  3091. Ali in 8:00 with a uranage. Miz TV was next with Andrade & Vega as guests. This
  3092. led to a singles match where Miz pinned Andrade in 10:00 with a skull crushing
  3093. finale. Main event saw Kingston, with Woods in his corner, pin Orton with
  3094. Trouble in Paradise.
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